Pakistan's economy has seen several swings over the past few years. The PTI government rode to victory on the cry of economic reforms and their performance therein, became the litmus test to gauge the competency of this newborn government. Initially, the economy suffered several shocks and so did the psyche of the general populace. However, much to the chagrin of those who rejoiced when things looked grim, things are finally looking up.
For the first time in Pakistan's economic history, the number of tax filers has increased from 1.8 million to 2.6 million filers as the FBR shifted its focus from salaried individuals alone to wholesalers, and retailers to bring them into the tax net too - a step much delayed in the taking, but still appreciated by the economy. Trade deficit also decreased by a huge margin of 42%. Expert opinion states that Pakistan's consumption-driven economic growth model was not sustainable, and efforts are needed to build it more solid grounds of investment and exports.
This export and investment-driven policy is at the heart of all economic and financial strategies of PM Imran and his team. As economy has stabilized, Pakistan now needs to become ferocious in its foreign-investment drive. The appointment of Ali Jehangir Siddiqui, a foreign investment specialist, as Pakistan's Foreign Investment Ambassador-at-large, signifies that U-turns can turn out to be helpful.
Having served previously as Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States, Ali brings in established relations and a familiar face to American lobbyists and Wall Street investors. Connections that can not only bring in more investment but can be used as trust-building elements to entice other investment opportunities.
His ability to close deals without waiting for public appreciation seems to have paid off big time with Hong Kong's premier port operator, Hutchison Port Holdings, announcing a fresh $240m investment in Pakistan, significantly increasing container terminal capacity at the Karachi port and bringing the company's total investment in the Pakistani economy to $1 billion. This investment will also boost the capacity of the CPEC trade potential signifying increased growth potential for Pakistan.
In light of this success, the government should continue strongly with its policy of engaging professionals well-versed in their fields, who have international exposure and are committed to serving Pakistan. Things may not be great, and Pakistan may not win this economic match with a resounding sixer, but a victory of last run on the last ball will still be decisive enough.