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ISLAMABAD: International Finance Corporation (IFC) committed approximately $1.5 billion in short and long-term investments in Pakistan in fiscal year 2023-24, doubling its investments from the previous year amid a backdrop of economic challenges in the country, said a press release.

IFC’s projects in Pakistan aim at providing much-needed jobs, increasing productivity in the private sector, enhancing gender inclusion, and addressing the impacts of climate change.

“Our investment and advisory programmes over the last fiscal year showcase IFC’s commitment towards helping realize the significant potential of Pakistan’s private sector,” said Zeeshan Sheikh, IFC Country Manager for Pakistan and Afghanistan. “Moving forward, we want to increase our focus on facilitating access to finance particularly for MSMEs, sustainable & digital infrastructure, as well as support to export-oriented industries that help create jobs and are critical for the country’s economic growth.”

Strategic areas of engagement during the last year included investments in agriculture and healthcare. IFC invested in the agribusiness sector by providing working capital to support local farmers and distributors, helping sustain jobs. To help meet growing healthcare needs, IFC also supported Alliance Healthcare to enable the leading private healthcare provider in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to expand its Northwest Teaching Hospital and Northwest General Hospital.

Alongside these investments, IFC enhanced its banking sector support to bolster manufacturing and export-oriented industries and help smaller businesses strengthen their value chains.

To support climate action, sustainability, and gender inclusion, IFC expanded its advisory work to collaborate with the State Bank of Pakistan to redefine environmental and social risk management frameworks for the country’s banking sector. The Climate2Equal Initiative was launched to help companies increase participation of female employees in climate related actions and policy decisions.

In addition, agreements with Gul Ahmed Textiles, CCL Private Pharmaceuticals, and Unity Foods have supported efforts to enhance resource efficiency and gender diversity within their operations.

Through its Public Private Partnership (PPP) Advisory unit, IFC is currently supporting the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as lead transaction advisor in structuring a private concession to upgrade airports in Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi. The country’s first-ever airport PPPs are expected to transform the sector, maximise revenue for the government, and provide improved services to the public.

IFC continues to evaluate new advisory and investment opportunities, including PPPs, in areas such as water, waste management, and sustainable infrastructure, with an aim to identify and structure bankable projects to crowd in greater private capital. Enhancing access to finance, promoting development of digital infrastructure & VC/startups, and providing financing to export-oriented industries will also remain a key part of IFC’s strategy.

Since 1956, IFC has invested approximately $11 billion in Pakistan. Through this work, IFC has supported diverse sectors such as renewable energy, financial inclusion, infrastructure development, agribusiness, manufacturing, housing, healthcare, and trade, among others.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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