PM asks Karachi businessmen to devise plan for $1b Saudi investment

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Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday asked Karachi businessmen to devise a plan for an investment of $1 billion dollars from Saudi Arabia.

Addressing a ceremony at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry during a one-day trip to the metropolitan city, the premier touched on a number of topics, including the recent import ban and the economic crisis.

“One billion dollars is available, it is a gift of investment from Saudi Arabia. As the prime minister, I am laying this in front of you. Sit together and brainstorm and make a feasibility plan. Set up a desalination plant and I believe that clean water will be available at every home within five years,” he told the businessmen.

“Now it is up to you. This investment is available. It is on the table,” he said, adding that he had told Finance Minister Miftah Ismail on the flight over to Karachi that he wanted to use the funds for the city.

He said that the Saudis had stated that they were waiting for viable investment opportunities in Pakistan. During his emphatic speech, Shehbaz also criticised the former PTI government and held it responsible for the current economic crisis.

Talking about the dollar, he said that the greenback was at Rs115 in August 2018 and had soared to Rs189 when he took his oath of office on April 11. “We (the government) had nothing to do with the Rs60-65 increase.” He went on to say that the dollar fell by Rs8 when he assumed office while the stock market also soared by almost 1,000 points.

Emphasising that he was not “going into any political point-scoring”, the prime minister said that the previous government had decreased petrol prices when it suspected that the no-confidence motion would be successful. He questioned the timing of the relief provided in the form of the fuel subsidy, saying that oil prices were the highest they had ever been globally and that Pakistan was burdened with debt. He called on the participants to tell him about any project the former government had executed with “seriousness” in the country which was related to the economy, agriculture or society.

 

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