ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) has shown great concerns over the 72.5 percent decline in total foreign investment in Pakistan.

Total foreign investment has tumbled down to $1,216.5 million during eight months (July-February) of the ongoing fiscal year 2019 from $4,425.1 during the same period of last year. The ICCI has called upon the government to take urgent measures to reverse this trend in order to promote local and foreign investment in the country.

Ahmed Hassan Moughal, President ICCI, said that direct investment in the country has also come down to $1.62 billion during July-February 2019 as compared to $2.09 billion during the corresponding period of last year, showing a decline of 23 percent as per data released by SBP, which should be a cause of concerns for the policy makers. He said that the security situation in the country has improved a lot and it was high time that government should take urgent measures to create a conducive environment for local and foreign investors. He identified persistent economic slowdown in the country, delay in finalizing bailout program with IMF and poor ranking of Pakistan in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index as the major factors that were discouraging FDI and stressed that government should address these issues on priority basis.

ICCI President said that promoting FDI was essential for Pakistan to supplement low domestic investment and saving rates, improve revenue growth, create jobs and reduce poverty. He said FDI was also crucial for technical upgradation and modernization of the industrial base of the country to increase exports and urged that government should use all possible options to promote foreign investment as the potential of many sectors of Pakistan’s economy could not be realized without fetching FDI.

Rafat Farid, Senior Vice President, and Iftikhar Anwar Sethi, Vice President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry, lauded the Prime Minister’s initiative to launch a new online visa system for foreign tourists and businessmen and termed it a positive development to improve FDI. However, they said that government should also address bureaucratic hurdles, poor infrastructure, rising tensions at borders and ensure consistency in policies that would give confidence to foreign investors for investing in Pakistan. 

They were of the view that facilitating the local investors was very important to improve FDI because when local investors would enhance investment in Pakistan, it would give more confidence to the foreign investors as well. They said that FBR raids on businesses, high gas and electricity tariff and complicated processes for doing business should also be addressed with priority focus to attract more foreign investment in Pakistan.