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URDU - Pak Finance Minister Visits Riyadh

Pakistani Finance Minister In Jeddah
By Iftikhar Chaudhry

Minister for Finance, Mr.Shaukat Aziz, has advised Pakistani professionals and investors abroad, particularly in the GCC countries to be the ambassadors of Pakistan and to help project a positive image of the country. Addressing members of the Pakistan Executives Group (PEG) in Jeddah, at the Sheraton Hotel last night, Mr.Shaukat Aziz welcomed efforts by PEG to help promote investments into the country, by Saudi investors and entrepreneurs. He emphasized that in this regard, Pakistani professionals living in Saudi Arabia should adopt a more focused approach, and help promote investment into the I.T., agriculture and privatization sectors. He assured the gathering that even though Pakistan was facing a serious debt profile the country was well on its way to slow but steady recovery; and added that the impression that Pakistan was close to bankruptcy was completely false. Mr.Ahsan Rashid, member of the Executive Committee of PEG, made a comprehensive presentation to the Minister and his delegation. Mr.Rashid told the Minister that PEG has been formed by Pakistani professionals in decision making positions in the Kingdom to specifically identify and provide two-way investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and to help promote trade of goods and services between the two countries. He said if properly motivated and mobilized, overseas Pakistanis can play a constructive role in the development of Pakistan. He identified the core areas in which Pakistani professionals and decision makers can assist Pakistan in its development plans. These are: promoting exports of goods and services; increasing remittances through legal channels; mobilizing funds for investments by overseas Pakistanis; the transfer of management and technical skills to Pakistan and the setting up of a development investment fund of up to US$ 50 million for selective investment in Pakistan. The secretary of the Board of Investment, Mr.Waseem Hakki in his address assured PEG members that some far reaching and revolutionary steps were being taken to attract foreign investment in Pakistan. He said these included the targeting of 10 specific countries including USA, UK, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, to tap investments; the identification of 8 to 10 sectors for investment including agro-based, service and non-manufacturing sectors; the provision of adequate guarantees for the remittance of royalties and professional fees; easy procurement of entry visas and establishment of welcoming desks at airports. He said the current investment policy of Pakistan has a definite edge over countries in the region. Mr.Hakki said that the Board of Investment (BOI) was being totally re-structured along the lines of corporate culture to make it more efficient and effective. He said current investment into Pakistan amounted to about US$ 5 billion - 2/3rd coming from USA, UK and the rest from Malaysia, South Africa and Islamic countries. The function was also attended by the Minister for Privatisation, Mr.Saleem Altaf, the Ambassador of Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, H.E. General (Rtd.) Assad Durrani and the Consul General, Mr.Rizwan Ul Haq. The welcoming address, at the start of the function was delivered by Mr.Mohsen Parvez.
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