THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, KARACHI, 03rd OCTOBER 2013: Foreign investors are optimistic about the economic policies of the Pakistan Mulsim League – Nawaz government, and it would be unfair to judge the incumbent government on the basis of just four months it had spent in office, said Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) President Kimihide Ando.
In an interview with The Express Tribune, Ando said that the government had shown its willingness to resolve important economic problems in its first four months in office without showing greener pastures to the nation.
Most of the members of the OICCI – an association of 190 multinationals working in Pakistan – showed a great deal of confidence on the formation of Nawaz Sharif’s government after the general elections of May 2013.
“It is too early to change our opinion. It is too early to judge. Yes, our expectations are high, and we are optimistic,” Ando said in reply to a question on investor confidence during the first four months of the incumbent government.
Ando, a Japanese national, is the first non-Pakistani president to take over the OICCI after a long gap of over 10 years. He is the 89th president of the OICCI, and has a strong belief that Pakistan and its economy will undergo a revival, which is why he has been living in the country for the last nine years.
“One of the positive approaches of the current government is that it is not giving false hopes to the nation. It is not saying that it will overcome major economic issues in one or two months, which shows that the government is taking on major economic issues realistically,” he said.
OICCI members to continue investing
A lot of foreign investment is coming into Pakistan in different sectors, like the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), oil and gas and telecommunication sectors, said Ando, when asked which sectors are going to receive the highest influx of investments in the next 12 months.
Some members of the OICCI in Pakistan are regularly making investments of $50 to $100 million per annum because they see the opportunity to invest in this country despite all challenges. Pakistan has a population of 200 million with the youth making the majority. The number of young people in Pakistan is equal to the number of young people of big countries like France, the United Kingdom (UK), Malaysia and Saudi Arabia combined, he added.
Major problems for foreign investors
According to Ando, apart from security and energy issues, foreign investors were perturbed with the rising issues pertaining to constitutional amendments especially after the 18th amendment.
He said that OICCI as a chamber had asked the government that it needs to streamline the issues of provincial revenue boards like Punjab and Sindh revenue board and the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR).
“We have not come to Karachi or Lahore. We have come to Pakistan,” he stressed.
Moreover, the issues with different revenue boards are growing. Investors are confused about new laws and regulations that are wasting their time. Besides, this is an additional burden as this increases the cost of production.
Opportunities being wasted
Pakistan is an agro-based economy but its productivity is one of the lowest in the world. Picking one of such examples, he said, per acre yield of rice in Pakistan was just 0.96 tons, which is one of the lowest in the world. In comparison, per acre yield of rice in India was 1.44 metric tons.
If Pakistan can just increase its rice productivity to the level of India, it can earn an additional $2 billion every year. This is the potential of the agriculture sector of this country. The government and the people of Pakistan must realise that the country has already missed many opportunities, he added.
“I am a strong believer in Pakistan. But I must say Pakistan has missed a lot opportunities in the last few decades. It is about time that it should capitalise on these opportunities,” he said.