SIFC – an economic revival plan (part-2) 

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Col (r) Ikram Ullah Khan 

Amidst the thick dark clouds enveloping the economic horizon of the country, a silver lining is visible in the form of an economic revival plan envisioned by the military leadership which has been put in place under the aegis of Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC). The forum has held several meetings chaired by the caretaker Prime Minister during the past few months to ensure the implementation of the initiative. Different ministries have been tasked to pursue the plan vigorously and come up with a synergistic approach. 

After experiencing the worst kind of economic recession and having stayed in the doldrums during the past few years, the economy has shown a sign of modest recovery after many years’ losing streak. The country seems to witness economic stability following a ruthless clampdown on different mafias operating in the country in the shape of dollar mafia, kunda mafia (illegal electricity connection holders), sugar mafia, money launderers, hoarders and land grabbers etc. 

In such a challenging economic environment, steering the country out of the economic morass is by no means an easy task, and it’s quite difficult to hit the jackpot anytime soon. In this regard, measures taken by the previous successive regimes to improve the economy were not more than a laughable window-dressing exercise. 

After stringent economic measures were taken by the caretaker government duly backed by military leadership, the country’s risk premium has fallen significantly thereby restoring the global investors’ confidence as well as the IMF’s confidence in the government’s economic policies. The recently concluded seamless staff-level negotiations with IMF team leading to the approval of the second tranche of IMF standby loan arrangement (SBA) is another positive indicator in this direction. Moreover, the reduction in risk premium has paved the way for a massive foreign investment, and foreign investors have started evincing keen interest to invest generously in different sectors. 

According to economic experts having special expertise in investment affairs, the overall environment for investment is made friendly and secure after military leadership’s commitment to keep the investment climate congenial and make the foreign investment secure. Military’s envisioned economic plan, i.e. SIFC seeks to lure foreign investment not only with tax incentives but also with sovereign guarantee for the security of investment.

Moreover, the fall in risk premium and the improvement in Eurobond prices both suggest that there is no risk of default by Pakistan on foreign debt repayment. All these factors have significantly contributed to boost the prospective investors’ confidence. 

Apart from the above-mentioned factors, the government’s decision to allow foreign investors to repatriate their profits and dividends out of Pakistan has further encouraged them to go for massive investment without hesitation. This is certainly a positive step to remove inhibitions in the way of foreign investment. Moreover, the IMF’s approval of the release of the second loan installment of 700 million dollars to Pakistan would encourage other friendly countries to unlock the pledged funding. The UAE and Saudi Arabia had already assured the IMF a few weeks ago that they were committed to provide the promised funding to Pakistan. 

The caretaker setup with the help of military leadership has set an upward economic trajectory that is expected to gain momentum in the days to come and climb new heights very soon. The Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), a brainchild of military leadership as I have mentioned in my earlier write-up written a few days back on the same subject, is a heaven-sent opportunity and all the stakeholders must make the most of it. SIFC has been set in motion with full force and the forum has taken upon itself to adopt measures that would fetch bonanza yields in the coming few months and would catapult the tottering economy into the new realm of progress. 

In the recently held meeting of apex committee of SIFC, the caretaker PM urged all the stakeholders to foster strategic partnership with friendly countries, particularly with Gulf countries who have shown interest to invest billions of dollars in different sectors in Pakistan. The apex committee in its recent meeting reviewed the progress made so far and unanimously appreciated the efforts and unflinching commitment of military leadership in this regard. 

It was decided in the meeting to vigorously pursue the projected investment after MoUs worth billions of dollars investment with the UAE and Kuwait are signed during the caretaker PM’s visit to these important Gulf countries. According to official sources, seven MoUs worth more than 10 billion dollars investment with Kuwait alone would be signed during PM’s visit. These MoUs are expected to be signed for launching projects in different fields, including mining, petroleum and IT sectors, etc. It’s also worth mentioning here that Saudi Arabia and the UAE have already shown their willingness to make massive investment in these sectors, and necessary steps in this connection have already been taken.

It may be noted that these expected investments by the Gulf countries have been made possible due to the intensive efforts made by the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) functioning under the direct oversight of military leadership. The PM and his cabinet members have lauded the efforts of military leadership in this regard. The PM has directed all the relevant ministries to work hand and glove with SIFC to achieve the envisioned long-term economic goals.  

It may be mentioned here that SIFC has set for itself an ambitious target of 60 billion dollars investment during the next five years. According to economic experts, Pakistan would be able to bring an economic turnaround if SIFC succeeds to achieve even 50% of the ambitious target. 

Having said all that, the success of the initiative so vigorously pursued by the caretaker setup solely depends on the future elected government’s commitment to the cause and its intention to keep harmonious relations with the military establishment. Unfortunately, our past political history shows that the political leadership views the military establishment as its arch rival and prefers to lock horns with it in a bid to establish the so-called civilian supremacy. If this happens, we will be back to the drawing board once again.

Last but not the least, what we direly need today is the sincere and solemn commitment on the part of political leadership which, unfortunately, is glaringly lacking. Our political leaders, instead of bemoaning the past and repeating the old political mantra, 

 “مجھے کیوں نِکالا”

and other such like impulsive outpouring, need to come out of their ‘petty self’, look beyond that and think of the country and its people, and take measures that could help steer the country out of the deep political and economic mire. They need to shake off their individualistic approach, see beyond the tip of their nose and act as great leaders of great nations are expected to do, rising above petty considerations .

1 Comment
  1. Khalid Ahmed Khan says

    The former army education corps (AEC) colonel is doing no service to the nation by unnecessarily glorifying something which is not going work no matter how hard they – the powers that be – try.

    The special investment facilitation council (SIFC) meant to revive the fragile economy of the country – destroyed by constant intervention of the undemocratic forces – will prove to be the latest flopped season in the longest running black comedy series called Winging Pakistan’s Economy.

    Those having fun of the country’s economy – since its creation – have failed to turn things around from the day-one and they are destined to kiss the dust once again.

    The governance is simply not the job of the “boots”. And whatever we are seeing since departure of a democratically elected government through a soft coup under the pretext of a no-confidence motion backed by the khakis will be remembered as the worst onslaught on parliament.

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