Note of unity at SIFC as KP CM attends huddle

Published May 26, 2024
A MEETING of the SIFC’s apex committee being held, on Saturday.—courtesy PM Office
A MEETING of the SIFC’s apex committee being held, on Saturday.—courtesy PM Office

• Gandapur assures centre of cooperation, claims KP promised due share in uplift fund
• PM Shehbaz urges provinces to move ahead in ‘unison like a family’
• COAS expresses army’s resolve to backstop govt initiatives for economic prosperity
• Seven desks being formed to facilitate region-wise investment

ISLAMABAD: A six-hour meeting of the Spe­cial Investment Facilita­tion Council’s (SIFC) apex committee served as a bridge between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and centre on Saturday as estranged KP Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur attended the huddle and assured the federal government of his government’s cooperation for the country’s sake.

The assurance came apparently in response to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s appeal to the provinces to further support the SIFC and move ahead in unison like a family to compensate for the losses of the past and overcome issues of poverty and hunger in the country.

The SIFC’s 10th meeting, which was jointly chaired by PM Shehbaz and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Syed Asim Munir, was attended by all the four chief ministers, federal cabinet members and senior officials.

Just three days ago, both the centre and the KP were at loggerhead over several issues, including the holding of the SIFC meeting, as CM Gandapur had claimed he had not been invited to the huddle while the federal government had asserted that no invitation had been issued to any of the chief ministers till then.

The prime minister appreciated the role of the SIFC and affiliated stakeholders for steering the investment and privatisation drive, in a befitting manner.

He thanked the provincial governments for expressing their confidence in the SIFC and urged the provincial governments to move ahead in unison like a family to compensate for the losses of the past and overcome issues of poverty and hunger.

“The federal governm­ent does not get enough for initiating development pro­jects after distribution of resources among the provinces, therefore under such conditions all the governments should move toge­ther with unity,” he urged.

“When SIFC was formed through legal procedures, certain concerns were expressed by a quarter, but with the passage of time, its significance, efficiency and achievements have shut all kinds of criticism and everybody now fully supports its initiatives,” he added.

The prime minister said FBR digitisation had already commenced. He credited the SIFC for paving way for the Reko Diq project in Balochistan.

Like previous SIFC mee­tings, the PM Office (PMO) did not share specific details of the 10th meeting of the apex committee with the media. “The press release of the meeting is not prepared by the PM Office, but by someone else,” an insider told Dawn.

Information Minister Attaullah Tarar held a presser after the meeting but did not provide precise details of the proceedings as he mostly talked about KP CM’s attendance.

“A message of unity was given as KP Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur atten­ded it,” the minister said.

The SIFC was formed in June 2023 to bring toge­ther provincial and federal government representatives as well as military officials as part of an effort for economic revival and increasing FDI inflows.

“I want to say that all four chief ministers expressed complete trust regarding the SIFC,” the information minister said, adding that CM Gandapur also “fully assured that they will cooperate”.

Mr Tarar said he was sitting in the meeting next to Mr Gandapur who admitted, saying “we have our issues, there are constraints as well and often times we have to talk because of them but we are not out of the SIFC. We express trust in the SIFC and accept it”.

“I think today’s meeting was held in a very cordial atmosphere with great positivity and the frank discussion that was held about the economy, increasing investment, public-private partnerships … I think the good thing is that a message of unity was sent after today’s SIFC meeting that the centre and the provinces are on one page,” the minister said.

Regional desks

Mr Tarar said the meeting also discussed the UAE’s recent pledge of $10bn investment in Pakis­tan, adding that the prime minister announced the formation of seven specific regional desks in the SIFC to cater to investment from China, the US, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Far East and the EU.

The ministries gave comprehensive progress on various projects and policy initiatives being steered through the platform of SIFC, and proffered plans for accomplishment of set milestones in the future.

The committee exhibited profound satisfaction on the overall progress achieved so far and appreciated the role of federal ministries, provincial governments and associated departments in realising the envisioned dividends. It appreciated the facilitation provided by the SIFC platform for improving ma­cro-economic conditions.

The committee reviewed the progress on privatisation of State-Owned Enter­prises (SOEs), expressed satisfaction on ongoing process and urged timely accomplishment of various milestones in collaboration with relevant stakeholders.

It reiterated the commitment to improve the investment ecosystem, and gave directions to make it more investment-friendly through sustainable policy initiatives.

The COAS reassured the firm resolve of Pakis­tan Army to backstop the government’s initiatives for economic prosperity of the country and socio-economic well-being of the nation.

Gandapur media talk

Later, in a media talk, CM Gandapur said the SIFC proceedings were conducted in a cordial manner and that he also “talked to the COAS twice” during the meeting. He gave an impression that PTI founder Imran Khan had permitted him to hold talks with the army to resolve confrontation.

“Yes I talked to the army chief two times in the meeting,” he said.

Asked if he talked about Mr Khan’s release, he said: “When I have been permitted to talk to him [COAS], why I should have discussed such issues with him in the meeting in the presence of some other people and [in an] atmosphere not conducive for such discussion.”

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2024

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