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Dar seeks investment from US companies as economy picks up

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is looking forward to working closely with the new US administration, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said on Saturday in a keynote address at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation.

He said Pakistan and the United States were long-standing friends with many shared interests, and they have worked closely to counter terrorism and ensure peace and stability in the region.

Speaking on the topic of ‘Pakistan’s Economic Reforms: Its Quest for Investment, Prospects for Development and Social Change’, Mr Dar said Pakistan’s economy was now one of the fastest-growing economies in the region with countless investment opportunities, according to a press release issued by the government.
Says the two countries have many shared interests

He asked US companies and investors to benefit from the attractive business and investment opportunities available in Pakistan.

“It has been a great partnership in the past and we would be able to work together and further enhance economic, defence and bilateral ties,” he said.

The government has pursued a strategy of four Es, i.e. energy, economy, elimination of extremism and education, he said. It has also carried out structural reforms for reducing un-targeted subsidies and broadening tax base, besides boosting foreign exchange reserves and curtailing inflation.

Tax reforms have helped the revenue collection to increase by 60pc over the last three years, he added. The tax-to-GDP ratio has improved to 13pc while GDP growth has increased from 4.7pc to above 5pc.

The minister also highlighted Pakistan’s completion of International Monetary Fund’s Extended Fund Facility programme and its re-entry into the bond and sukuk market.

He said the global ratings for Pakistan have also moved from negative to stable to positive.

He said the merger of stock exchanges into a single entity, the Pakistan Stock Exchange, or simply PSX, has helped the market to become one of the best-performing exchanges in the world.

Mr Dar said Pakistan offered low-cost production and was in a position to capitalise on the opportunities arising out of the shutdown of plants in China due to high cost of production. On financial inclusion, he said around half of Pakistanis would be included in the programme by 2020.

On China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said it would benefit the entire region as it offered huge investment opportunities.

To address energy shortage, around 10,000 megawatts would be added to the national grid by March 2018, he said.

Security situation in Pakistan has improved, he said, adding that no one could better understand and appreciate the need for peace more than Pakistanis as they have given countless sacrifices in the fight against terrorism and extremism.

He said Afghanistan’s peace, stability and territorial integrity were important for Pakistan as it could not afford a political unstable country in its backyard.

He also mentioned deadlock on the Kashmir issue and the continuing tension on the Line of Control as other external security dilemmas for Pakistan.

Courtesy : Dawn News

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