Economic lifeline

65

THIS week has so far proved to be very good for the country as far as securing finances is concerned.

Following pledges of $ 9.7 billion dollars at Geneva Conference for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of flood affected areas and the announcement by Saudi Arabia to invest $ 10 billion in Pakistan, President of UAE’s President Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan during a meeting with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday conveyed that his country will rollover Pakistan’s $ 2 billion existing loan and provide an additional loan of $ 1 billion.

Separately, on the same day CEO of the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), Sultan Abdulrahman Al Marshad, and Ministry of Economic Affairs Secretary Dr KazimNiaz, signed an agreement to finance oil derivatives worth $1 billion to Pakistan.

Given the depleting foreign exchange reserves, the economic lifeline provided by Saudi Arabia and the UAE were direly needed to shore up the reserves which will also help stabilize the local currency – the impact of which then probably will be visible in the prices of essential commodities including those of petroleum products.

Moreover this will also encourage the IMF to release the next tranche to Pakistan on less tougher conditions.

Once the IMF comes on board, other financial institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development will also open their coffers for us which will pave the way for us to meet external debt liabilities.

The people of Pakistan will always remain the relentless support of both the UAE and the KSA and the recent one has poured in after a weeklong visit of Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir to both the Gulf States where he held talk with the top leadership.

Time has come that we move beyond seeking assistance and spreading begging bowl before others to standing on our own feet and we have no doubt in saying that the friendly countries will be forthcoming in extending a helping hand in this regard.

Though these are difficult times, but the events of last few days suggest that wind is blowing in our favour and we need to take full advantage of this opportunity knocking at our doors to take the country in the right economic direction and free it from the debt trap.

During a meeting between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the UAE’s President, both the leaders expressed to resolve to enhance their investment cooperation and stimulate partnership.

In recent times, a positive momentum has been seen in trade between the two countries which touched $ 10 billion during the last fiscal year.

The trade volume is in favour of the UAE as our imports are mostly related to energy. In fact this can be tilted in Pakistan’s favour to a great extent by venturing into the UAE’s market.

For instance, we can largely meet the meat, rice and fruit requirements of the friendly country and this will help us earn valuable foreign exchange.

Then there is immense potential of cooperation in sectors such as IT, Start-ups, defence, agriculture and so on.

At present both the countries are negotiating a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and there should not be delay in finalization and signing of it in order to give a major impetus to the partnership in diverse fields of mutual interest.

We will suggest that business communities and chambers of commerce of both sides need to engage more with each other in order to explore investment opportunities in each other countries.

In these challenging times, we should extend maximum facilitation to the investors from the UAE and other countries as this is the only panacea for all our economic woes.

In the last few decades, the UAE has made exceptional economic transformation and infrastructural development. We can learn a lot from the experience of the fraternal country.