ISLAMABAD - Chairman Board of Investment (BOI) and Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr.Miftah Ismail said on Monday that government was fully committed to unleashing the full potential of economy, and work with investors to build a strong, stable, and economically vibrant Pakistan.

He was addressing two-day International Investment Conference here at a local hotel. Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif inaugurated the conference in presence of a large number of foreign and local investors.

Mifta Ismail said that he strongly believes this conference will provide the conference participants an opportunity to get first-hand information about the potential for trade and investment in various sectors.

The Chairman BOI said, “Ours is a very nuanced culture, with traditions of civility and hard work.I think the ethos of our society, while always evolving, are perfectly suited tothe 21st century”.

He said that this century has seen, and would continue to see, very important developments in economy and trade.

The rapid modernization of Asian economies,he said was acknowledged as oneof the most dramatic developments in the economic history of the world.

“If the current momentum continues, Asia’s share in the world economy would be doubled by 2050, which would account for over half of global GDP. Pakistan as part of this fast developing Asia is poised for sustained and rapid growth and offers long-term opportunities for stable high returns”, he said.

Miftah Ismail further said that economists often talk about land, labour and capital as factors of production and a large well-off market as an important factor for consumption.

Fortunately for Pakistan, he said “we have a winning blend of rich natural resources, a large and growing market, and a disciplined and skilled workforce”.

Highlighting natural resources, he said that it was difficult to briefly list the natural resources “we are blessed with. Just on the Indus cascade we can generate over 80000 MWs of electricity through dams and run-of-the-river plants”.

The Chairman BOI said that in Thar Pakistan has the 5th largest coal deposits in the world, valued at over US$ 9 trillion.

In Baluchistan he said “we have some of the largest copper deposits in the world, again valued in trillions of dollars. We have iron ore in Punjab, gold in Punjab and Baluchistan, rich agricultural land around the country and so many other mineral resources”.

“We also have large deposits of conventional, tight and shale gas and oil.and a large market for oil and gas. Our Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources will discuss these opportunities to the investors”, he said.

In short, he said it would be difficult to find even a few countries more resource-rich than Pakistan around in the world.

“All of you are well aware that increased urbanization, favourable demographics and a growing middle class are recognized as important attributes of rewarding markets”, he said .

Fortunately again, he said Pakistan was blessed with all these important factors. Pakistan is the most urbanized country South Asia with over 180 million people; and it is the sixth largest country in the world.

“At a time when most countries confront the worrisome prospect of ageing populations and the burden of demographic fatigue, Pakistan faces no such challenge. Nearly sixty per cent Pakistan’s population is under the age of thirty, thus offering huge demographic opportunities”.

By 2025, Pakistan will be one of the six countries in the world with a 100 million strong middle class, ready to seek and afford better lifestyles and living standards, he remarked.

Clearly, he said Pakistan is an upcoming emerging market.

In fact, many local and foreign companies have all made record profits in recent years.

This is the reason our stock market has been making new records since our government was elected and our corporate sector has been posting record profits,he remarked.

This, he said has encouraged other enterprises to expand their investments in Pakistan.

“This is the reason why World Bank has projected investment to rise in Pakistan. Our federal minister for Finance will tomorrow talk to you about the very bright future prospects for the Pakistani economy”, he said.

“We also need to improve our ease of doing business index and our global competitiveness. Here the Board of Investment in collaboration with our Finance Ministry, the World Bank and IMF is working on changing the rules so that investments for you become fast and easy”.

The prime duty of our government, he said was to enable our economy to work at its full potential to provide a better living for our people.

Better infrastructure, governance, uninterrupted and affordable energy, quality education and healthcare for everybody are areas of priority for our government.

“Gone are the days, ladies and gentlemen, when governments acted as employers of first or even the last resort. Today the role of government is limited to establishing the rules of business and providing an enabling environment”.

Private sector is the engine of growth and the provider of employment for the emerging labour force.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has thus emerged as a major source of private external inflows and employment opportunities. FDI plays an important role vis- -vis technology development, enhances human capital formation, contributes to international trade integration, helps in creating a more competitive business environment and promotes enterprise development, he said.

“I know that as business entrepreneurs you are always on the lookout for new markets and sectors for investment. I am here to tell you that Pakistan is one of the most lucrative places for doing business around the world. Not for nothing has our stock market risen by more than 25pc in dollar terms annually over the last 10 years”, he remarked.

Pakistan, he said also has one of the most liberal foreign investment regimes in South Asia. 100pc foreign equity is permitted in all sectors of the economy.

He assured them that each one of these sectors offers opportunities with virtually incomparable rates of return.

“I am sure that you will be excited to explore some of these areas for your future investments”, he said.