Over $21bn trade deficit to wash away $5.5b FDI target of BoI

LAHORE: Taking strong exception of the new investment policy of the government, setting target of $5.5 billion’s Foreign Direct Investment during the next five years, APAT central general secretary Naeem Mir has said the Board of Investment’s target should be at least $10 billion, as trade deficit of over $21.5 billion will evaporate all benefits of foreign investment leading to the deficit of $8.5 billion in spite of including foreign remittances of $13 billion.

The investment policy cannot be implemented without providing comprehensive framework for creating conducive business environment to attract investors.

Mir suggested the Board of Investment to evolve a mechanism to become more effective in facilitating investments in the country and for this purpose oversees Pakistanis should be given incentives to invest in agriculture, transportation, telecom and energy sectors, which have huge potential, besides auction of 3G and privatization of public sector institutions.

He said that it was ironic that Pakistan‚ which had one of the best investment policies on paper‚ failed to attract foreign investment, as the present process of approval of projects was cumbersome and discourages investors. There is need to work on a one window system where the investor can be provided all necessary information and facilities.

APAT general secretary asked the bureaucracy to work on simplification of procedures by revisiting the existing processes without compromising on transparency so that the investors were comforted.

He said that foreign private capital flows showed a negative growth of 38 percent against the world average surge of 20 per cent. Even poor neighbouring country of Bangladesh managed to maintain pace with the global trend of foreign investment.

He said that Pakistan would have to repay $2.9 billion to the International Monetary Fund in 201213 in 12 monthly instalment of $241 million each while the country has already repaid $1.2 billion to IMF in 201112, out of the total loan of around $8 billion.

He said that Pakistan has paid back some $2.5 billion to the International Monetary Fund IMF during the last one year, resulting into depletion in foreign reserves and weakening of rupee against foreign currencies.

He said that cumulative foreign direct investment inflows during past 10 years stood just at $26 billion, including privatisation proceeds of $2.8 billion.

He said that FDI peaked to $5.4 billion in 2008 from mere $483 million in 2002 and declined to $82 million during the last fiscal.

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