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ISLAMABAD: The net Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has been decreased by 28.9 percent in financial year 2021 in Pakistan due to outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.

In written replies to the questions of the members, Minister In-charge of the Prime Minister’s Office told the National Assembly during question hour session, on Monday.

He said that the net FDI stood at $1.847 billion during the period of 2020-21.

He said that since, the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, the global economy toppled and overall FDI flows across the world went down by 35 percent in 2020 and this also affected the FDI inflows into Pakistan due to which net FDI decreased by 28.9 percent in financial year 2021.

He said that the steps are being taken to promote the FDI in the country.

He said that the promotion, facilitation and protection of the FDI is the domain of the Board of Investment (BOI); however, attraction of investment needs a whole of government approach.

He said that all the federal economic ministries and departments, provincial governments, the security agencies and the private sector need to play their respective roles in providing conducive investment climate for attraction of the FDI in the country.

He said that other areas, which contribute towards inward investment are infrastructure, ease and cost of doing business and federal, provincial and local policy, legal and regulatory frameworks.

Minister In-charge of the Prime Minister’s Office said that the BOI are taking steps to increase the FDI into the country including, (i) Improving Ease of Doing Business, (ii) Improving business climate through Pakistan Regulatory Modernization Initiative, (iii) Using Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to promote industrialisation in the country, (iv) Devising and implementing Investment Promotion Strategy to attract quality investment in the country, (v) Devising a Comprehensive Investment Law, (vi) Online Investment Facilitation Services-like issuance of work visa, branch/liaison office, security clearance and issuance of airport entry passes; and (vii) Integration of Investor‘s Grievance Cell with the Citizen Portal.

Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin also told the house in a written reply that as on 19th July, 2021 the foreign exchange reserves of the State Bank of Pakistan were $17.92 billion, while reserves with commercial banks were $7.07 billion.

He said that improvement in the current account balance has also helped in increasing foreign exchange reserves.

In another reply to a question, Tarin said that Pakistan entered into an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) Program with the IMF in July 2019.

He said that till date, five reviews have been concluded successfully with around $1.9 billion disbursed to Pakistan.

He said that that the government remains committed to the EFF program.

As the economy stabilises, the government aims for sustainable and inclusive growth, he said.

Constructive discussions are ongoing with the IMF on structural reforms, particularly on tax and energy sectors and social spending, he said. Earlier, the National Assembly was informed that Pakistan will soon come out of the FATF grey list as it has largely addressed 26 out of 27 action items of the Financial Action Task Force.

Responding to a question, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said that Pakistan has undertaken enormous work to strengthen its anti-money laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism regime, and addressed the strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies.

He said all the 10 action items pertaining to the financial sector and border controls have been addressed.

He said that action items related to UN designated persons have been partially addressed and Pakistan is dealing this matter as per its own laws.

Replying to another question, the Minister of State said the foreign exchange reserve rose from 16 to $25 billion in the last three years.

Responding to a question, Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam rejected the reports that the government is going to impose a ban on export of rice.

He said the government imported wheat to build strategic reserve to avert any shortage.

Soon after the question hour session, Ramesh Lal of the PPP pointed out quorum.

After counting, the House was not in order, and the speaker adjourned the session till Tuesday (Aug 3) at 4pm.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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