Pakistan to get more than $10bn Saudi investment — BoI Chief

This file photo shows a general view of Gwadar port on April 13, 2016. (AFP)
Updated 10 January 2019

Pakistan to get more than $10bn Saudi investment — BoI Chief

  • A “very high-level” delegation is expected to visit Gwadar on Saturday
  • Economists suggest government should offer lucrative incentives to lure more foreign companies

ISLAMABAD: There seems to be more good news for Gwadar in the pipeline.
Officials said on Thursday that Pakistan government has finalized the documents for the Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) which Islamabad is expected to sign with Saudi Arabia this month for investments in various sectors, including a billion-dollar oil refinery in the Gwadar port.
“We have done our work and the actual signing of the investment agreements will be finalized soon with mutual consent of both the states – Pakistan and Saudi Arabia,” Haroon Sharif, Board of Investment Chairman (BoI), told Arab News on Thursday.
He said that Saudi Arabia has expressed an interest to invest in the petrochemical, renewable energy, mining, and several other sectors, with formal agreements to be signed next month.
“The inflow of Saudi investments for an oil refinery and petrochemical complex in Pakistan is estimated to be around $10 billion,” he said, adding that “the total volume of Saudi investments will be much more than $10 billion.”
Sharif said that the additional source of revenue would help strengthen the economy and create job opportunities for the youth in the country, too.
Arab News has also learnt that a “very high-level Saudi delegation” will visit Gwadar – the deep port city in restive Balochistan province – on Saturday to examine the feasibility of setting up an oil refinery there. Saudi firm, Aramco, is expected to invest in the project.
In October last year, during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Riyadh extended a $6 billion financial package to Islamabad to help the country overcome its balance of payments crisis.
Sharif, however, said that Saudi’s investment in the oil refinery and other sectors will be in addition to the financial package and “initial negotiations for the investment between both the countries have already been finalized.”
PM Khan presided over a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the ease of doing business wherein he was informed that “the MoU with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is expected to be signed this month whereas the investment framework MoU with the UAE is expected in February 2019”.
Discussing the prospective sectors which Saudi Arabia might invest in, Sharif said that Saudi firm ACWA Power has shown an interest in financing certain renewable energy projects in different areas of Pakistan, including Sindh and Punjab provinces. Likewise, Saudi Arabia is also willing to invest in the country’s mining sector, he added.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have expressed a renewed interest in enhancing bilateral, strategic, and trade engagements after PM Khan chose the Kingdom for his maiden foreign trip in September last year, which was followed by another visit in October.
“Pakistan can overcome its chronic economic crisis only if it succeeds in luring huge foreign direct investment in the next couple of years, besides doubling its tax revenue,” Dr. Athar Ahmed, a senior economist, told Arab News.
He said that Pakistani authorities were expecting more than $40 billion in investments from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and China in the next three to five years but that “all this exists on the papers only so far.”
“The government needs to offer lucrative incentives to foreign investors and create a conducive environment for businessmen in the country to tackle economic challenges,” he added.


Philippine airline operators ask for government support over coronavirus, say survival at stake

Updated 31 March 2020

Philippine airline operators ask for government support over coronavirus, say survival at stake

  • Airlines seeking emergency credit lines and waiver of navigation and airport fees

MANILA: An association of airlines in the Philippines is requesting government help, saying they face a threat to their survival as the global push to contain the coronavirus spread hampers operations, the airlines said in a letter seen by Reuters.
The letter, dated March 25, was sent by a domestic airlines association that includes Cebu Air, Philippine Airlines and the local unit of Malaysia’s AirAsia as its members.
The airlines said they were not seeking handouts, but emergency credit lines and waiver of navigation and airport fees, due to the “catastrophic impact” of the coronavirus.