The Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) is making every effort to attract foreign investment, particularly from the Gulf countries.
Its main target is the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations besides other countries and therefore to facilitate investors, the body has unveiled a new visa policy.
The council met for two days to deliberate on various issues and discuss ways to assist foreign investors and enhance investments.
The council comprises members from both the government and the military sides, among them the army chief.
The aim of setting up Special Investment Facilitation Council earlier this year was to attract investments from the Gulf nations and other friendly countries. But unlike the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which attracted significant investment from China, the western countries’ response to the council has been somewhat lukewarm.
Therefore this is one of the reasons why the Gulf countries are being wooed to make investments.
But, this does not prevent China from making investments under the SIFC.
According to a government official, the scope of CPEC and SIFC is different.
The main focus of CPEC has been infrastructure whereas the SIFC allows Beijing to invest in minerals and other areas that do not fall under CPEC.
The official was optimistic that significant investment would be made by the GCC countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
Recently, Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani had said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was likely to visit Pakistan, however dates of his arrival are yet to be confirmed.
The de facto ruler’s visit is of great significance as far as economic development and investment are concerned.
Saudi Arabia is keen to invest in a number of sectors, especially agriculture, mining, energy and IT industries.
The foreign minister is terming the expected visit of the Saudi crown prince a game-changer.
Earlier interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar had announced that Saudi Arabia would be making investments to the tune of $25 billion over the next two to five years.
Another minister had also said that the first agreement would be signed with Saudi Arabia by the end of the year.
However what the SIFC needs to focus on is extending its reach to countries out of the GCC sphere.
The government officials are aware that apart from the GCC nations, no western country has been keen in making investments. Apart from Indonesia, no other non-GCC country has made any firm pledge.
Therefore the SIFC should activate the country’s embassies throughout the world and assign them the task to woo investors from the western countries. There is a need to convince their governments that investing in Pakistan is s face bet.
The SIFC should now switch to top gear.