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ISLAMABAD: The government has reportedly prepared its “wish list” to be presented to UAE’s top brass during the two-day (January 12-13) visit of Prime Minister, which includes rollover of amounts already deposited with the SBP, beef up of deposits by $2 billion, oil on deferred payment like Saudi Arabia and resolution of M/s Etisalat issue, well informed sources in Finance Ministry told Business Recorder.

The government’s team headed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has given final touches to the wish list. Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir has just returned from his visit to UAE wherein he discussed different issues with UAE’s senior leadership.

During a meeting on proposed schedule visit of Prime Minister to UAE, Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Minister for Finance and Revenue, stated that this was an important visit and it was essential that the Pakistan side went there with a focused and well-prepared agenda. He said government priorities should be: (i) roll-over of the amounts already deposited by the UAE with State Bank announcement to this effect during this visit would be very helpful; (ii) request UAE to beef up its deposits by an additional $2 billion; (iii) effort should be made to settle the long-standing Etisalat/PTCL issue; and (iv) Prime Minister may like to meet the head or CEO of Abu Dhabi Holdings and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA).

PM to visit UAE tomorrow

Syed Naveed Qamar, Minister of Commerce, speaking about issues relevant to Commerce Ministry, stated that Pakistan should prioritize the signing of FTA with GCC of which UAE is a member, and then proceed to the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with UAE. Also, Pakistan had lost the anti-dumping case against UAE and legal opinion was that its appeal was not likely to succeed. It would, therefore, be a good symbolic gesture if Pakistan withdrew the appeal.

Syed Faisal Ali Sabzwari, Minister of Maritime Affairs, gave the background of the issue with Dubai Ports with regard to Port Qasim. He stated that there was potential for UAE investment and a possible deal may be worked out with Dubai Ports for the next 25 years on mutually acceptable terms.

Sajid Hussain Turi, Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, informed the Prime Minister that there were 3,100 Pakistanis in UAE jails, many without justification. The UAE authorities had banned entry of Pakistanis from 70 districts and 27,000 Pakistanis had returned to Pakistan. The Prime Minister directed the Minister to take up this issue with his UAE counterpart, and if appropriate, the matter may be raised during the visit.

Abid Hussain Bhayo, Minister for Privatisation, gave details of PTCL-Etisalat issue and said it would be most helpful if the Prime Minister takes up this matter with the UAE authorities.

The Prime Minister observed that the intention was to resolve the issue, however, the gap between the positions of the two sides in terms of the amount involved was too big.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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