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KARACHI: Former Chairman Board of Investment (BoI), Muhammad Azfar Ahsan Friday said the foreign investment shows an abysmal situation keeping in view the state of economy.

The government, in confirmation of the commitment to bring in FDI, has passed the Promotion & Protection Act 2022. According to this Act, the government will provide maximum relief to foreign investors in taxation and other matters. This is a great step towards opening investment opportunities, he added.

Azfar reminded of his earlier warnings in his talks and articles, regarding the distrust being built in foreign investors and the dire repercussions that will come about consequently.

According to the report, FDI is at USD 1.93 billion, down by 25%, the lowest in the last four years. “One year ago, I made a forecast regarding our Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), wherein I emphasized that our projected FDI for this year would range between $ 1.4 to 1.5 billion; …my prediction came true in the wake of glaring faults in the planning for FDI,” he said.

Azfar elaborated that investors are also frustrated by the policy hurdles in the process of repatriating profits to parent companies. Foreign companies are allowed to repatriate only a mere 20 percent or $1.5 billion only, which itself puts a ceiling on the intended investment amount. He pointed out that in his tenure as BoI Chairman, he had first-hand experience of how foreign investors had the will to invest in Pakistan, especially the Middle Eastern countries that were strongly inclined towards 8 sectors of the economy, one being the mammoth agricultural landscape.

He said China is keen to invest in CPEC projects. “What we need to do is ensure facilitation to materialize these almost-ready projects and open avenues for billions of dollars in investment,” he added.

“In my opinion, the real solution is the robust restructuring and empowerment of the Board of Investment, with a solution-oriented approach of creating a one-window mechanism for foreign investors, as they do in the Central Asian Republics, Asean, and the Middle East.” He insisted that it is high time for the political government, bureaucracy, and military leadership to join hands and facilitate the existing investor as well as attract the foreign one.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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