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Temporary blips not to curb record overseas investment: Prime Minister

19 June, 2007

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said on Monday that the temporary blips are not serious enough to curb record overseas investment strongly needed to sustain national economic growth.

"Despite some blips, which happen in any developing country, we have been vindicated because we have maintained our credit ratings, investment flows and growth momentum," he said in an interview with a foreign TV channel.

The demonstration of 20,000 people in a country of 160 million population is not what we would call a serious concern, he said. Referring to the fast increasing foreign investment, the Prime Minister said investments worth billions of dollars would come into the fields of power generation, hotel industry, stock market, cement and banking sectors in next few years.

Shaukat Aziz said that Pakistan needs overseas funds in power projects because demand is forecast to rise at an annual pace of as much as 12 percent in the next three years. He said demand for electricity rose 20 percent in the year ending June 30, more than twice the projected pace.

"People have the money to buy electricity equipment so, the demand has been much higher than all of us expected and we have to gear up now," the Prime Minister said. About reform process initiated by the present government, he said the reforms have been institutionalised to a large extent and codified in the law.

Outlining the strategy to further reduce price hike, he said agriculture businesses in dairy and livestock and the farming of minor crops like tomatoes, potatoes and onions would be encouraged to help reduce food prices.

The Prime Minister said Pakistan would take advantage of heightened overseas interest to sell $500 million in foreign-currency bonds next year through a Sukuk or conventional bond sale. The nation last month raised $750 million by selling foreign currency bonds in its fourth debt offering in three years, he said.

To a question about holding of next general elections, he said the government is fully committed to holding of upcoming general elections on time in a free and fair manner. He said former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who lives in exile in Dubai and London, will "take her own decision whether to come or not, based on some legal challenges she has to overcome."

Copyright APP

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