KARACHI - A seminar of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on foreign investment in Pakistan was held here on Saturday. Audience of the seminar were informed that governance related issues and lack of transparency in relevant ministries and government-run departments had been the single most common and serious concern prevailing among prospective foreign investors who are assessing the prospects to invest in Pakistan.

“People around the world who are willing to invest in Pakistan want to see political and social stability in the country along with consistency of economic policies so that long-term investment plans could be prepared,” said managing director of Pakistan Stock Exchange, Nadeem Naqvi at the seminar: “Grand opportunities of foreign investment in Pakistan” organised by standing committee on foreign investment of FPCCI. He said the government should ensure maximum transparency in agencies/departments dealing with prospective foreign investors.

On the occasion, Naqvi said that Pakistan needs to increase budgetary allocation for education so that it could produce skilled labour having such skills which are in demand by industries across the globe. He said that science and technology, robotics, artificial intelligence were some of the areas of knowledge-based economy, which should get government investment for rapid growth of the nation as per international standards.

He said the infrastructure sector of the country had the vast potential to get more investment from foreign companies, adding that the government should frame such policies which would be helpful in attracting international investors. He said the bottlenecks faced by incoming foreign investors when they deal with regulatory and licensing regimes of the country had to be eased out with speeding up and simplification of the regulation frameworks.

Arif Habib, Chairman of Arif Habib Group, said that Pakistan should be considered as one of the most profitable destinations by prospective foreign investors who should make massive investment in different sectors. He said the country needed more investment by foreign companies in power and infrastructure sectors. He said it was a welcoming sign that more companies from the United States, China, Switzerland, and Australia were coming to Pakistan.

He suggested that joint venture companies should be formed by local businessmen with prospective Chinese investors working on CPEC so that maximum volume of investment made in the country could not go outside Pakistan. He said that energy and agriculture sectors were two promising areas, which should get foreign investment.

Kahlid Tawab, acting president of FPCCI, said that Pakistan with 110 million working population provided an excellent opportunity to foreign investors to invest in the country.

He said that textiles, mineral, and food packaging sectors had phenomenal potential to increase exports of the country with proper incentives, growth, and investment in these areas of trade and industry. He said that Pakistan had all the potential and resources to build its infrastructure for doing exports for global Hilal food sector as at present a non-Muslim country had been accounted for up to 70 per cent exports for this area concerning Muslims around the world.

He said the Pakistanis should work to remove the perception that its economy posed undue hurdles and checks in the way of getting foreign investment, adding that image of the country should be built as an investment friendly country.

The acting FPCCI president appreciated the efforts of present government to end power shortfall in the country by year 2018, saying that deficit in energy sector had to be overcome to attract more foreign investment in the country.

He said the federation he had been representing was always available to facilitate foreign investors in any required manner as the FPCCI would act as a bridge between government and international companies willing to do business in Pakistan.

Noted industrialist Mirza Ikhtiar Baig said that foreign money being brought and invested in Pakistan should be considered as the most safest as compared to any other economy in the world as multinational companies were getting up to 60 per cent profit on their investment and such a high rate of return on foreign investment was next to impossible in any other country.

Hanif Gohar, chairman of Association of Builders and Developers Pakistan, called upon the government to ease out the process of getting loan facility by families of middle and lower income groups for their own housing facility so that they could contribute to economy of the country in best of the manner.

Abdul Azim Uqali, director projects at Sindh Board of Investment, talked out the potential Sindh province had to attract foreign investment. Jordan James Din, representing Consulate General of Switzerland, talked about commercial and trade ties between Swiss and Pakistani economies and governments.

Earlier, Malik Khuda Baksh, chairman of FPCCI’s Standing Committee on Foreign Investment, welcomed speakers and participants of the seminar saying that federation would continue to hold more such moots for promoting the cause of attracting more foreign investment for good of the country.