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Zardari wants APC on economic issues

07 December, 2012

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari has asked businessmen to organise an all-parties conference on economic issues.

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While addressing a luncheon reception hosted by him at the Presidency in honour of the members and officials of Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI), President Zardari said he would himself attend such a moot to reach a consensus on the vital issue of investment and economic policies of the country. He also emphasised the need for more foreign investment in Pakistan and urged the investors to play their due role in the formation of long-term investment policies.

“We want to make Pakistan a profitable place to do business without any problem,” the president said. He said the investors should consult the main political parties of the country to develop a consensus among the major political players on investment policy for at least a ten-year term to ensure stability and continuity. The reception was also attended by federal ministers, diplomats, representatives of leading business organisations and leading investors.

Zardari asked the business community to highlight sector-specific problems and their solutions and make the government and politicians forge consensus on them. He said there should be a consensus for the next ten years for continuation of the investment policies in order to realise the objective of economic development and prosperity. The president said that when the present government took the reins of power in 2008, the economic conditions of the country were deplorable.

The stock business had greatly plummeted, he noted, while foreign exchange reserves had fallen to four billion dollars. Besides, terrorism had greatly affected the law and order situation in the country. He said that the government took a number of steps to improve the country's economic condition and increase resources of the provinces. Zardari said that although resources of the provinces have been increased, they are yet to shoulder their responsibilities in economic development.

The president said Pakistan has the potential to grow and develop in all sectors. “We have to tap this potential before asking our friends to help the country,” he added. He, however, pointed out that the international community ought to help Pakistan as it is fighting a war that was left behind in Afghanistan by the world community. He pointed out that the European Union has now granted Pakistan Preferential Market Access but the country is seeking GSP plus status.

The president said the strength of a country lies in human resources and economic capability, and examples of Singapore and many other Asian countries are before Pakistan. He said the job of the government is not to do business but to create an enabling environment for the businessmen. President Zardari said the Karachi Stock Exchange has now touched 15,000-point level against 6,000 points when the present government took over in 2008. This reflects confidence in the investment polices introduced by the present government, he added.

Zardari said measures have been taken to liberalise trade with India and in the region, which is a major shift in policy driven by the business sectors on both sides of the border. He said the government is promoting an investor-friendly environment and offering most liberal investment policy regime in the region. Highlighting the incentives being given to the investors, the president said these include full repatriation of capital, capital gains, dividends and profits.

He said Pakistan has signed business investment treaties with many nations and for the first time in the country's history, a democratically elected government will complete a full five-year term next year. The president said there is need for more interaction between public and private sector. He said there is need to expand road network. Referring to the opportunities in the international market, the president said, “We want trade and not aid but our access to markets is very poor.” Highlighting the electricity problem, he said the government is making sincere efforts to overcome this problem. He said there is need to increase power production as well as reduce its price.


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