SIFC vows to address investor woes

In Business
March 30, 2024



ISLAMABAD:

Pakistan has received an encouraging response from ambassadors of numerous countries who have appreciated the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) for effectively addressing the challenge of red tape and facilitating ease of doing business.

Pakistan has been facing criticism from foreign investors because of inconsistency in policies and the hurdles created by the civil bureaucracy and political governments.

SIFC has assured continuity of policies and has been able to address concerns of foreign investors. It has also given assurances of expediting work on the projects being executed in the country.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in a recent meeting, appreciated the robust SIFC mechanism, which had effectively addressed the issue of red tape and was ensuring ease of doing business.

The premier revealed that ambassadors of numerous countries had appreciated the role of SIFC.

He underscored the need for a “Charter of Solidarity and Economic Progress” to put the country back on track of economic expansion and political stability.

He stressed that Pakistan’s economic and financial position was gradually improving.

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In this regard, he mentioned that during the period from April 2022 to August 2023, the government provided major relief and saved the country from default, which enabled the successor caretaker government to engage with the IMF meaningfully and successfully get the loan programme resumed.

As a result of such efforts, the PM added, market confidence was growing and the economy was continuing its recovery on the back of prudent fiscal policies.

He expressed satisfaction that the second International Monetary Fund (IMF) review had concluded successfully but emphasised the need for freeing the country from all foreign debt as the government’s policy was to facilitate and promote foreign investment rather than rely on loans. For this purpose, viable propositions were being prepared for productive sectors of the economy.

Taking stock of the performance of various divisions, PM Shehbaz stated that gaps in delivery of services and areas for improvement were being identified and steps were being taken to improve the efficiency of government departments.

Discussing the impediments to effective tax collection, he cited the large number of recovery cases, worth billions of rupees, pending in tribunals and courts for many years. He directed the law and justice minister to contact the relevant tribunals and provincial chief ministers and ask them to approach and request the high courts to decide the cases on priority.

The PM apprised the cabinet of the reform initiatives being undertaken in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). In this regard, the premier himself presided over several meetings and it was decided that reforms would include 100% digitisation of the FBR. In addition, international consultants would be engaged by the third week of April 2024.

He emphasised that honest officers would be appreciated and rewarded, but corrupt persons would not be tolerated.

He asserted that existing taxpayers should not be squeezed beyond limit as it was completely counterproductive, rather tax base must be expanded. Minister of finance and revenue was asked to supervise the task.

It was pointed out that a committee, headed by the Planning Commission deputy chairman, had been constituted to present a practical plan for reduction in government expenditures. The cabinet had been apprised that deliberations were underway and a report of the committee with recommendations would be presented next week.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2024.

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