Pakistan on Thursday invited Russia to revive the Pakistan Steels Mills through strategic partnership after Sindh government refuses to acquire public sector entity which losses surged to Rs142.9 billion.

“Russia should help Pakistan in reviving the Pakistan Steel Mills through strategic partnership”, said Finance Minister Ishaq Dar while addressing Pak-Russia Investment Forum. He said that Russia had helped in establishing the PSM, which is now suffering huge financial losses.

The PSM is not operational from last few months due to the suspension of gas supply. The accumulated loss of the PSM had increased to Rs142.9 billion during the fiscal year 2014-2015. As many as 15,274-employees of the PSM had not received the salaries for four months now. Even the Sindh province rejected the offer made by Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCOP) to acquire PSM with all its assets and liabilities.

Addressing the forum, the Finance Minister invited the Russian investors to invest in Pakistan, as the country has become the second choicest place for investment according to a study. Peace has been restored in the country after operation Zarb-e-Azab to eliminate the terrorism from the country, he added. He thanked the Russian side for establishing north south gas pipeline, which would further strengthen the investment potential.

Ishaq Dar said there is vast scope for cooperation in political, economic and industrial sectors between Pakistan and Russia. He reiterated his resolve to overcome the power crisis by 2018 after adding additional 14600 megawatt in the national grid, as the government initiated several projects of hydro, coal, gas and alternative energy. The government is working on Diamir Bhasha, Dasu dams simultaneously, he remarked.

Talking about the economic performance, Finance Minister said that government is following growth trajectory and job creation after achieving economic stability during first two years of its tenure. The economic growth went upto seven years highest level of 4.24 percent in 2014-15 and brought down the budget deficit to 5.3 percent from 8 percent. Similarly, the inflation rate had touched 12 years low level and interest rate recorded at 40 years lowest level.

In opening remarks Dr. Miftah Ismail, chairman Board of Investment highlighted that the existing trade and investment figures between the two countries are not reflecting the real potential exist. He highlighted the potential exist in Pakistan in terms of natural and human resources. He invited the Russian as well as Pakistani investors to invest in Pakistan as prospects of co-production; joint ventures with local partners are promising in the country.

Federal Minister drug control services, Russian Federation highlighted that this first investment forum has provided an excellent opportunity to businessmen and investors from both sides to interact and explore possibilities of joint cooperation trade & investment. He showed his confidence that this forum will further cement our bilateral trade & investment relations as a number of CEOs and companies representatives of both the countries are gathered here to discuss avenues of cooperation in various sectors. He pointed out that the existing volume of trade and investment is not commensurate with the available potential in both the countries.

The Russian Minister emphasised that establishment of airlinks between the two countries would be stepping stones for setting up direct contacts between the business and investors community. The Minister also offered the supply of LNG gas to Pakistan. He particularly mentioned the agreement signed last month for establishing north south gas pipeline and asked the business representatives of both the countries to work on other possible areas of cooperation such as banking i.e through opening of bank’s branches in each other’s country, furthering cooperation in sectors like Electro energy, infrastructure, oil & gas, transport, agriculture, agriculture, telecommunication and other areas of mutual cooperation. He mentioned that today (Friday) meeting of IGC will testify these agreements at governmental level. The Minister also appreciated the economic policies of government of Pakistan and expressed the hope that the rising trend of Pakistan economy opens new avenues for business communities to enhance trade and investment which is ultimate objective of this forum.