LAHORE - Federal Minister for Interior/Planning, Development and Reforms Dr Ahsan Iqbal has said the global powers are now considering Pakistan an emerging economy.

“In the eyes of world media Pakistan is no longer a place of danger. The same media, which declared Pakistan as safe haven for terrorism, is now calling Pakistan as emerging economy and safe haven for foreign investment. Pakistan stands at the third opportunity to take off since its inception and its new identity is only because of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its investment,” the minister said.

Iqbal was addressing the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP) Conference titled ‘CPEC-Myths and Realities’ held under the aegis of Northern Regional Committee of ICAP as a chief guest at a local hotel. The conference was participated by a good number of professionals belonging to accountancy, banking and finance.

The minister said CPEC could play a key role for country's economic progress and prosperity as it is a great gift from the Chinese government and people for Pakistan, which we cannot forget.

Iqbal, highlighting the importance of venture, said CPEC offers Pakistan an excellent opportunity to upgrade basic infrastructure of all provinces as the corridor essentially passes through whole of Pakistan.

“New roads, highways, railways, airports and Gwadar Port are to be built and developed according to the blue print of this ambitious project. Pakistan will be a major connecting link with various Asian economies.”

“By August 2013, Chinese foreign direct investment in Pakistan stood at 13th position and it became number one in FDI in the first three years since 2013 in result of strategic economic partnership between the two states.”

He informed the audience that the biggest-ever CPEC private investment worth 5 billion US dollars has been mobilized on Thar Coal project whose energy value is equal to oil stocks of Saudi Arabia and Iran. “We have wasted 70 years to tap coal. That is because of CPEC that coal stocks are now being exhausted to cater 400 years’ need.”

The minister said Pakistan required good stocks of foreign exchange reserves and increased exports and Gwadar Port city would help achieve the target through trade with Central Asia and other regions.

He said the country needed 20 billion US dollars FDI to advance its annual growth rate, adding the government is expected to achieve six percent growth rate despite political crisis.

Iqbal said Pakistan and China had set up a joint Business School Consortium which is aimed at uniting the businessmen and business sectors of both sides to promote B2B activities, which the government cannot do except giving infrastructure.

Earlier, Asad Feroze, Chairman NRC delivered his welcome address.

In his opening address, ICAP President Riaz A Rehman Chamdia spoke on the topic ‘ICAP & CPEC – The value driver’.

Former Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr Ishrat Hussain focused on making this mega project a success and suggested that the success of this program depends very much on the consensus, commitment, continuity and collaboration of the political parties, all the tiers of government, public sector organizations, private sector, military and civil society.

Other speeches that set the tone of the conference were delivered by Abdul Razak Dawood, the Chief Executive Officer of Descon; Muhammad Saleem Ahmed Ranjha, the Executive Director General Board of Investment.

One of the two panel discussions revolved around myths and realities of CPEC. Shahid Iqbal Khattak, ex CFO KP Economic Zones Development and Management Company moderated the panel that comprised Dr Shahid Rashid, executive director Center of Excellence CPEC and Zulfiqar Ali, Director BOI Punjab.

Salman Amin, Senior Advisor Tariff, NEPRA Government of Pakistan talked about role of NEPRA in CPEC.

Other plenary sessions addressed topics such as role of Punjab government in CPEC, role of Pakistan China Chamber in CPEC and security and economic perspective of CPEC.

The second panel discussion topic was strategic matters of CPEC and impact of CPEC on Business Community.

Dr Salman Shah, former finance minister, and Dr Jawad Syed, the Dean SDSB LUMS talked about economic perspective of CPEC and a critical business perspective on CPEC respectively.