SIFC is very important for Pakistan’s economic interests

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FPCCI’s presidential candidate, Atif Ikram Sheikh, said on Sunday that economic security is very important for the sovereignty and independence of the country; therefore, it must be the top priority for a decade so that the country can become self-sufficient. Presently, the country is facing high inflation and a struggling industrial sector. External debt has risen while international financial institutions are imposing tough conditions for loan facilities, compromising sovereignty, he said.

Atif Ikram Sheikh, who has also served as VP FPCCI, Chairman PVMA and President ICCI, said today that action is underway against hoarding and smuggling, but some mafias must be tamed. He said that there is a need for immediate measures to prevent economic default. Despite Pakistan’s potential and advantageous location, there has been little foreign direct investment due to political uncertainty, security concerns, weak infrastructure, difficult administrative procedures, a lack of transparency, ineffective government operations, frequent changes in economic policies, and tax and investment laws.

The government unveiled a strategy for economic restoration in June 2023 to focus on harnessing the country’s untapped potential in key sectors. In addition to attracting international investment, the plan is focused on indigenous development and uses local resources. The business leader said the encouragement of export-focused foreign direct investment will fully utilise the available potential in vital industries like energy, defence, agriculture, livestock, minerals and mining, and information technology.

Atif Ikram Sheikh added that the economic revival model would function through collaboration between the centre and provinces for prompt decision-making and removing any obstacle to investment and business promotion.

The project can be larger than CPEC if carried out in letter and spirit, as a Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) has been formed to simplify the processes for implementing the strategy.

The SIFC is working on a plan to revive Pakistan’s economy by reducing non-developmental expenditure, limiting government luxuries, and utilising indigenous national resources, he said.

The SIFC is working on a comprehensive plan to revive Pakistan’s economy by reducing non-developmental expenditure, limiting government luxuries, and utilising indigenous national resources to boost Pakistan’s economy.

The SIFC would act as a ‘single window’ for collaboration in important fields. Its mandate also includes preparing a long-term strategy for growth, development, and investment in key industries to raise awareness of Pakistan’s untapped potential in key disciplines.

The Executive Committee of the SIFC has expanded its scope beyond facilitating foreign investment through swift decision-making. The forum now includes performance reviews, dispute resolution between investors and government departments, allocation of gas to sectors, water supply schemes for major cities, settlement of circular debt, performance of diplomatic missions and curbing smuggling, he remarked.

Pakistan, with a young population and potential as a global technology destination, needs a supportive mechanism to attract businesses and unlock FDI capacity for technology. It is also important to improve the justice and governance system, make efficient regulatory frameworks for ease of doing business, and remove the bureaucratic red tape at the federal and provincial levels in Pakistan.

Atif Ikram Sheikh said that without success, it would be difficult to sustain long-term economic development in Pakistan. The challenge lies in assessing the connection between published financial data and its impact on stability and security goals, which has been neglected in the past.

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