LAHORE -  Board of Investment Chairman Miftah Ismail has said that ban on new industrial gas connections is likely to be lifted as the BOI has forwarded summary to Prime Minister Nawaz Sahrif in this regard.

While speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), the BOI chairman said that some private sector players are also playing role to help the government to overcome gas shortage as they are negotiating deals to import LNG. He said, “Soon after taking over in 2013, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took gas and electricity shortage as the biggest challenges to the economy and today we are sure that there would be no load shedding in 2018.” He said that investment state of affairs would go better with improvement of infrastructure, electricity, water and gas supply.

He said, “In 70s, Pakistan was most open and fast growing economy but today we are lagging behind from even Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.” He said local investment to GDP ratio is just 15 percent as compared to India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh where its average ratio is around 30 percent. He said that there is a dire need to enhance local investment to GDP ratio. He agreed to the LCCI president that both local and foreign businessmen should be treated equally and productive investment should be promoted by encouraging the local investors.

On China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said that China supported Pakistan in difficult time and made huge investment. He said that reservations about CPEC are not right as Pakistani and Chinese businessmen would be given equal opportunities. He said that Special Economic Zones are being developed throughout the country where facilities would be available for the industrialists.

On the occasion, LCCI President Abdul Basit said that foreign investment cannot be promoted without encouraging the local investors. He said that unfortunately present situation is not good as local businessmen are facing the issues of raids at business premises and attachment of business bank accounts. He said that reducing number of filers and rising revenue is ample proof of the fact that existing taxpayers are being squeezed.

He said that during the last few years, Foreign Direct Investment was showing declining trend. Though China Pakistan Economic Corridor has improved the scenario but still lot of work is needed to be done. He said that CPEC has grab the attention of Germany, Russia, Iran and many other countries and work on various projects is well on the way. He said that there must be a balance between Pakistani and Chinese businessmen and both must be provided equal opportunities to grow.

LCCI Senior Vice President Amjad Ali Jawa said that it is a matter of concern that investment of some important countries continuously going down. He cited the example of the US whose investment in Pakistan was $1309.3 million in 2007-08 that dropped to $209 million in 2014-15 while during the period of July-February 2016-17, volume of US investment in Pakistan is just $ 50.3 million. Likewise investment of UK, UAE, Japan and various other countries is also declining. He said that this issue should be tackled through aggressive marketing strategy.