SIFC paints picture of unity among provinces

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PM says federating units trust highest body on investment

ISLAMABAD:
K-P Chief Minister Ali Amin Khan Gandapur on Saturday attended the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) meeting to champion his province’s interests as the government painted a picture of unity among provinces for the sake of progress.

Gandapur, who has been on the warpath for weeks, lambasting the federal government for allegedly trampling on his province’s rights, pressed forth his demands “in a friendly atmosphere”.

Meanwhile, amid the brewing tensions, government ministers suggested that both the province and the Centre were singing from the same hymn sheet and wished to move forward hand in hand when it came to development.

Gandapur’s attendance came as earlier the PTI had criticised the federal government for not inviting the K-P chief minister to the SIFC meeting, lamenting its prejudice towards the province and its people.

The apex committee of SIFC took stock of the progress on ongoing economic collaborations with friendly countries and lauded the recent spike in trade and investment engagements with efforts spanning government-to-government and business-to-business frameworks.

The 10th meeting of SIFC’s apex committee, chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also gave directions for an efficient follow-up mechanism to transform these commitments into tangible projects and economic dividends, at a fast pace.

The meeting was convened to review various initiatives and projects under its ambit, the PM Office media wing said in a press release.

The meeting was attended by Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir, members of the federal cabinet, chief ministers and high-level government officials.

PM Shehbaz said that the focus of the SIFC was to attract investment and trade instead of getting aid to address the long-standing economic issues of the country, saying all provinces fully trust the forum. He said that the significance and performance of the platform has silenced its critics.

Just a day after the government declared that SIFC is a lifeline as well as a redline, the apex committee reviewed progress on various projects and policy initiatives under SIFC and presented plans to meet the milestones set in the future.

The government declaration has come on the heels of a recent news report which stated that Pakistan’s investment ratio has plunged to its lowest level in 50 years, falling to just 13.1% of the size of the economy in the outgoing fiscal year, despite efforts by the SIFC.

SIFC, a joint body run by both the military and civilians, was established through an Act of Parliament by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government with an aim to boost the country’s low investment and remove bottlenecks hindering economic growth.

According to the official statement, the committee exhibited profound satisfaction with the overall progress achieved so far and appreciated the role of federal ministries, provincial governments and associated departments in realising the envisioned dividends. It appreciated the facilitation provided by the platform of SIFC for improving the macroeconomic conditions of the country.

The committee also gave directions for an efficient follow-up mechanism to transform these commitments into tangible projects and economic dividends, at a fast pace.

It reviewed the progress on the privatisation of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), expressed satisfaction with the ongoing process and urged the timely accomplishment of various privatization milestones in collaboration with relevant stakeholders.

The forum reiterated the commitment to improve the investment ecosystem and gave directions to make it more investment-friendly through sustainable policy initiatives.

During the meeting, the army chief reassured the firm resolve of the Pakistan Army to backstop the government’s initiatives for the economic prosperity of the country and the socio-economic well-being of its people.

In the end, PM Shehbaz appreciated the role of SIFC and affiliated stakeholders in steering the investment and privatisation drive, in a befitting manner. He gave directions to fast-track various initiatives through a ‘whole-of-government’ approach and played a constructive role towards the economic stability of the country.

‘Federation, provinces on the same page’

Meanwhile, Information Minister Attaullah Tarar said the meeting of the SIFC sent a resounding message of unity, highlighting that the federation and provinces were on the same page regarding the country’s development.

“A message of unity has been sent from the SIFC meeting today,” the information minister said, adding “Everyone has confidence in SIFC and all are united at the SIFC forum.”

The government spokesperson said that he was grateful to all chief ministers for attending the meeting. He emphasised that the forum would move forward with contributions from everyone, including the chief ministers of the four provinces.

The minister also congratulated all the provincial governments on the productive SIFC meeting. He noted that investment promotion through the SIFC forum would be bolstered at both the federal and provincial levels.

Talking to the media after the meeting, he said that SIFC was a serious forum and the meeting was held in a very good atmosphere.

Tarar said that investment will be promoted through the SIFC forum, revealing that seven desks will be established within SIFC to promote investment and trade. “SIFC is the lifeline of the country’s economy,” he reiterated.

The special desks will be established for the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, China, Qatar, European Union, United States of America and Far East.

Tarar said that K-P CM Ali Amin Gandapur has also assured cooperation, reiterating that the conversation with K-P CM was held in a good atmosphere.

Tarar shared that PM Shehbaz has made it clear in the meeting that the government doesn’t want aid or loans anymore as the whole focus will be on investment and trade with different countries. To achieve that, he said, SIFC’s executive committee meetings will also be held regularly.

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