Pakistan Nods Projects Worth Billions of Dollars To Gulf countries


In a major development, cash-strapped Pakistan has in principle approved 28 projects worth billions of dollars that would be offered to Gulf countries for investment with the long-term objective to reduce reliance on loans and imports. The newly established Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) -- a hybrid civil-military forum - is leading the drive to fast-track economic development to address the financial woes of the country.

The list of the approved projects suggests that if all the schemes are picked up by countries, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, the quantum of investment under the SIFC banner can be greater than the USD 28 billion under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The approved schemes are in the food, agriculture, information technology, mines and minerals, petroleum and power sectors. They include cattle farms; the USD 10 billion Saudi Aramco refinery; explorations of copper and gold in Chagai; and the Thar Coal Rail connectivity scheme.

The initial project also includes the Diamer-Bhasha dam which has also been offered to China for investment under CPEC. The CPEC is a collection of infrastructure and other projects under construction throughout Pakistan since 2013.

In order to give legal cover to the SIFC working, parliament already approved a host of amendments to the Pakistan Army Act and the Board of Investment (BOI) Ordinance. Amendments to the Election Act have also been introduced to ensure the continuity of work on these schemes during the tenure of the caretaker government.

These laws will provide fast-track execution of the initially approved 28 multi-billion dollar investment projects, besides ensuring immunity to the decision-makers from any kind of investigation by various anti-graft bodies.

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