ISLAMABAD  -  Pakistan and Saudi Arabia signed three Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) for grant projects in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the health and education sectors. Secretary Economic Affairs Division and Chief Executive Officer Saudi Fund for Development signed on behalf of their respective governments. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Asad Umar held a meeting with a Saudi delegation led by Ahmad Agil F.Al-Khateeb, Chairman, Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) and Adviser to the Crown Prince at the Ministry of Finance. Al-Khateeb was heading a six-member Saudi delegation that included senior officials of SFD. Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan Nawaf Saeed Al-Malkiy was also present during the meeting.

Finance Minister Asad Umar discussed with the delegation matters relating to strengthening bilateral economic ties between the two brotherly countries. The ongoing and pipeline projects of Saudi Fund for Development also came under discussion with the view to accelerate the pace of their implementation. The finance minister appreciated the role of Saudi Development Fund as a development partner of the Government of Pakistan.

In other development, Plenary Session of Pakistan-Kuwait Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) was held here. Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Asad Umar, and Minister of Commerce & Industry of the State of Kuwait Khaled Nasser Abdullah Al-Roudan co-chaired the Session.

Speaking at the inaugural session, the finance minister welcomed the Kuwaiti delegation and said that Kuwait and Pakistan have cordial political and economic relations, which were rooted in common bonds of religion and culture. He said that Pakistan desired to enhance economic and commercial cooperation with Kuwait for mutual benefit of both the countries. He invited Kuwaiti businessmen to invest in agriculture farmland, milk and food processing plants in Pakistan, for export of agricultural commodities of desired quality to Kuwait and other countries. He said that Kuwaiti investors may take benefit of attractive investment opportunities in Special Economic Zones of Pakistan in areas like automotive, food processing and textile as well as in oil & gas exploration. He hoped that businessmen of both countries will endeavour for further enhancing bilateral trade to its true potential.

The Kuwaiti Minister for Commerce and Industry expressed that economic relation between the two countries need to be further strengthening for the mutual benefits of both countries and their people. Technical sessions of the JMC continued during the day where officials from both sides deliberated on various areas of mutual interest.

Meanwhile, a delegation of Chief Executive Officers of Islamic Banking Institutions called on Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Asad Umar here at the Ministry of Finance. Secretary Ministry of Finance Arif Ahmed Khan was also present on the occasion. During the meeting, President Meezan Bank Irfan Siddique gave a detailed presentation on Islamic Banking sector in Pakistan.

He said that there was a great demand for Islamic banking as a large segment of population wanted to avail Islamic Banking services. He said that the industry which was set up in Pakistan in 2005 had witnessed a robust growth of 35 per cent. The presentation also highlighted the obstacles faced by Islamic Banking institution in its future growth.

The Finance Minister said the government was committed to promote Islamic Banking sector in the country and would help in resolving the issues faced by the industry. He said that level-playing field would be given to the Islamic Banking along with the conventional banking. He asked the Islamic Banking to come up with innovative products through which they could participate in sectors which were facing liquidity problems.