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Establishment Concentrating on Economic Revival

OpinionEstablishment Concentrating on Economic Revival
By: Syed Shahzaib Haider

Our country’s economy was in bad shape, it was almost on the edge of collapse. But favorably a new staff-level agreement with IMF worth $ 3 billion for nine months is being committed and out of which some of the almost a half of it is already been sanctioned by them. Concluding the IMF deal and securing a new agreement was certainly a very arduous undertaking which finally succeeded courtesy of the efforts made by the civilian and military leadership of the country and the support extended by our friend nations Saudi Arabia, China and UAE. The collation government of PDM inherited an economy in complete shambles. The difficult decisions at this point of time and efforts for the revival of the economy will have its political cost for the coalition partners, particularly PML (N) the ruling party.

The government is focusing to gain the economic stability and the conclusion of an agreement with IMF. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said that the country has succeeded in wading through the most difficult times. Inheriting a country on the verge of financial default. Dealing with the subsequent political turmoil, a renewed wave of terrorism and a serious deterioration in Pakistan’s relations with major powers and trusted allies was also a daunting task. But he has been able to successfully navigate this complex landscape by engaging coalition leaders, the security establishment and key foreign partners.”

To put the country on the path of sustainable economic growth the government originated a much needed approach for the first time to partner Army in propelling the economic progress of the country. The establishment of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) is a step towards that end. It will comprise three tiers including a six-member Apex Committee including COAS chaired by the Prime Minister. The Executive committee will have eight members including representatives from the Army. Additionally, the implementation committee will have 5 members both from civilian and military leadership in addition to co-opted members including Secretary Finance, Secretary Board of Investment, Secretary Economic Affairs, Chairman of FBR, Deputy Governor of state bank and provincial focal persons.

The top level Council is mandated to frame economic policies that ensure predictability, continuity & effective implementation with a major focus on attracting foreign direct investment from GCC countries in the fields of agriculture, minerals, mining, information technology, and defense production. This important step is being complemented by the launch of the Pakistan Sovereign Wealth Fund and the conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with the UAE. There are no two opinions about the fact that GCC countries have been playing a crucial role in Pakistan’s economy by serving as primary sources of energy imports and foreign remittances. The ongoing economic diversification and regional reconciliation in the Gulf particularly under the Saudi Vission 2030 offer ample opportunities for Pakistan to attract investments from GCC countries as well as to export skilled manpower and tradable commodities to the Gulf countries. According to Dr. Asseri the ambassador of

kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Pakistan leading economies of GCC are also willing to contribute to Pakistan’s economic stability. The establishment of SIFC in the backdrop The Special Investment Facilitation Council offers a viable pathway in this respect. Its establishment indicates that Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders understand the risk of dependency on foreign loans. They are preparing to lay down a solid economic base by attracting investment from friendly countries.

Another very significant initiative taken in collaboration with the Army is the initiation of corporate farming by the latter. The Army had requested one million acres of land initially. However, the Punjab government signed an agreement with the Army to allot 45,267 acres of state land in the districts of Bhakkar, Khushab and Sahiwal on lease for 20 years. The move has survived a legal challenge and the work on the project has started. Corporate farming envisages the use of modern technologies and agricultural practices and will focus on import-substitution farming to replace imports worth billions of dollars with domestic production as well as ensuring food security. Chief of the Army Staff on the inaugural ceremony of a model Agricultural Farm at Khanewal expressed his determination to steer Pakistan out of the prevailing problems reiterating that all Pakistanis have to throw away the begging bowl. He emphasized that the Pakistan Army took pride in serving the nation and was dedicated to the welfare of the people and the country. Alluding to the potential for progress the COAS asserted that no external force could hinder a country’s journey towards advancement. Army becoming a partner in the economic development of the country is a very significant and propitious initiative that will help in raising the confidence and trust of the people in the policies of the government besides ensuring their continuity. The involvement of the Army in the development process is also favorable from the perspective that the Gulf and other friendly countries repose more trust in the military leadership than the political leaders under the ongoing circumstances. Pakistan Army surely deserves absolute appreciation from the nation for its role in defending the ideological and physical frontiers of the country.

The writer is the director of the editorial board of The Dayspring

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