In a resounding endorsement, business leaders and market analysts are hailing the recently established Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) as a crucial necessity during these challenging times.
“The SIFC is a necessity of the time as it includes all local stakeholders, such as the civil-military forum, trade bodies, businesspeople, bureaucrats, politicians, and others. It is a bouquet of all stakeholders, ensuring that issues faced by industrialists or investors are promptly addressed. Our Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was nearly non-existent due to multinational companies struggling to repatriate profits. However, with the establishment of the SIFC, foreign investors have been assured of their profits, creating a conducive environment for potential $60 billion investments within the stipulated five-year period. The SIFC is not only resolving foreign investors’ issues but has also begun addressing local concerns. For instance, the fertiliser industry faced a severe shortage, leading to the black-market sale of Urea, negatively impacting the agriculture sector.
Thanks to the SIFC, the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) extended privileges to the fertiliser industry, ensuring it operates efficiently, and soon fertiliser will be available at economical rates. The SIFC is fully capable of resolving all issues, fostering substantial growth for local businesses,” remarked Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Adeel Siddiqui in a conversation with The Express Tribune. Siddiqui believes the council will efficiently and swiftly tackle bureaucratic obstacles.
“I appeal to the SIFC to extend the same facilities to local investors as foreign investors, allowing local investors to make swift investments, while foreign investors may take time to bring investment here,” urged SITE Association of Industry Karachi President Muhammad Kamran Arbi. He underscored the importance of promoting local industrialisation and implementing a one-window operation to alleviate the burden of dealing with over 60 federal and provincial departments, which currently poses a challenge for business growth. Arbi also stressed the need for imposing regionally competitive electricity rates, asserting that these initiatives could help achieve the government’s ambitious investment targets.
Read: SIFC to attract billions in investment: PM
Economist Faizul Haq suggested utilising the SIFC as an extension of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) and leverage the infrastructural and communication networks developed by CPEC. He highlighted CPEC’s substantial contributions, such as power generation, efficient transmission networks, world-class highways, job creation, and special economic zones (SEZs).
“It makes perfect economic sense to expedite the return on investments and enhance the resulting favourable cost-benefit equation, further solidifying CPEC, the crown jewel of BRI. Both CPEC and SIFC should be envisioned as constantly expanding enterprises, providing incremental economic utility,” he said.
Underlining key initiatives of the SIFC, Haq emphasised the transformative potential of granting uniform right-of-way (ROW) charges for telecommunications, asserting that it could revolutionise Pakistan’s tech landscape, enabling rapid economic growth.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2023.
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