SIFC could see delay in investments due to Gaza conflict


By: Shahzad Paracha

Islamabad: National Coordinator for the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), Dr. Muhammad Jahanzeb Khan, expressed concern over the delay in investments from Middle Eastern countries in Pakistan, attributing it to the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

“Middle eastern countries have shifted their attention towards the Gaza situation and our timelines may face a delay in the proposed investment coming from GCC,” he told media.

During the briefing, he highlighted that Middle Eastern countries are currently focused on the Gaza situation, which may affect the timelines for proposed investments from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

Jahanzeb revealed that the establishment of the SIFC was based on recommendations from GCC countries, aimed at easing investment processes. He mentioned the shift from short-term loans to government funding towards holding investments in funds.

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In a meeting with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he briefed on SIFC’s role, stating that it acts as a supportive body, providing backup to various ministries. The IMF, however, expressed concerns over Pakistan granting special tax incentives and preferential treatment to certain countries.

Addressing Pakistan-China relations, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) stated that China remains a longstanding ally of Pakistan. Despite certain issues, he assured the relationship was still doing well.

“China might have issues with the Pakistani government over pending dues of Multan-Sukkar Motorway, as well as some payments of power projects, but we will mutually resolve them.”

He also mentioned Chinese investors’ interest in Pakistan’s textile and other sectors and disclosed a joint 2030 plan, stressing the importance of developing industries under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to utilize Special Economic Zones and free electricity.

Regarding the Reko Diq project, Dr. Jahanzeb noted that a third party had finalized its work related to selling shares in the gold and copper mines. He assured that international investment in this project is expected. “International investors are observing Pakistan’s decision regarding how much chunk of it will Pakistan sell, but I assure you that investment will surely come for Reko Diq,” he said.

Dr. Jahanzeb also touched upon the need for capacity building in government departments and hiring technical experts and international advisors for studies on important issues like comparing CPEC and SIFC. He acknowledged the lack of trust foreign investors have in the Pakistani judicial system, leading them to file petitions in international courts, and emphasized the necessity of policy and administrative reforms to attract investment.

He further discussed the SIFC’s role in decision-making, such as influencing NEPRA’s tariff decision for solar energy, and informed about the advanced stage of outsourcing Islamabad airport. “NEPRA held on to deciding tariff for solar energy till the intervention of SIFC,” he gave an example.

Jahanzeb showed optimism for future and said SIFC, operating under the Board of Investment, will likely be supported by the upcoming government and could serve as a monitoring body if departmental performances improve.

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