Saudi Arabia, Pakistan will soon finalize volume, areas of investment, Finance Minister Asad Umar tells Arab News

Asad Umar rebuffed recent media reports that claimed Riyadh would “invest $10 billion in Pakistan,” dismissing the impression that the volume of investment had been ascertained yet. (AFP/File)
Updated 30 September 2018

Saudi Arabia, Pakistan will soon finalize volume, areas of investment, Finance Minister Asad Umar tells Arab News

  • A Saudi delegation will visit Pakistan in the first week of October to discuss trade enhancement and investment visas
  • Prime Minister Imran Khan, during his Saudi visit, discussed trade, foreign direct investment, visa fees, and issues faced by our labor class

KARACHI: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will decide the quantum and areas of Saudi investment in a meeting with the Kingdom’s delegation to Pakistan, which is due to arrive in the country during the first week of October, said Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Asad Umar, speaking exclusively to Arab News.
The minister rebuffed recent media reports that claimed Riyadh would “invest $10 billion in Pakistan,” dismissing the impression that the volume of investment had been ascertained yet.
“The prime minister’s visit was meant to make agreements at the highest level with the King of Saudi Arabia and build a stronger relationship. In principle, only verbal discussions have taken place so far,” he added.
Umar noted: “We have discussed trade-related issues, foreign direct investment, visa fees, and issues faced by our laborers.”
The finance minister also dispelled the notion that Pakistan was facing a financial emergency. “Pakistan is not in an emergency situation that requires it to rush to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to seek a bailout,” he maintained.
“We have neither stopped imports nor imposed financial sanctions,” said the minister. However, he emphasized that it was important to be prudent while taking economic decisions.
“We need to take well-measured decisions. As a situation emerges, we take steps to manage it. We don’t want to take decisions in emergency.”
The staff mission of the IMF is scheduled to arrive in Pakistan on Sept. 27 to engage with the Pakistani authorities. “We are in discussion with them, but this is not to negotiate for a loan. Our purpose is to do our homework, in case we want to approach them at some stage,” the minister clarified.
Responding to a question about managing the balance of payment deficit, Umar said: “We are eliminating the root cause of this problem, and that root cause is fiscal deficit. We have done that through the recent finance bill which will reduce our cost of import.”
He said that during his visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan’s prime minister discussed measures for trade enhancement and investment. “These are measures which will help fill the external financing gap,” he noted.
He also said Pakistan was constantly in touch with international commercial markets and banks for financing.
About the measures to increase the country’s exports to ease its external payment obligations, the finance minister said the issue had been discussed in detail with the Chinese.
“During the upcoming international trade exhibition, which will be attended by the prime minister as one of the chief guests in China on Nov. 4 and 5, we will discuss items line by line so that they can give us trade concessions to increase exports to China.”
“Similarly, when the Saudis will come, decisions will be made here in Pakistan about trade enhancement and investment,” he added, hoping that these steps would mitigate the balance of payments crisis.
The government is also planning to float overseas, dollar-based saving certificates for Pakistanis living abroad. The finance minister said the amount of issue would be decided at the time of floating these certificates.
“We will float them in October, but it will not be a one-time issue. We will be floating these certificates periodically for overseas Pakistanis,” said Umar.


Prince William and wife Kate see impact of climate change at Pakistan glacier

Updated 30 min 35 sec ago

Prince William and wife Kate see impact of climate change at Pakistan glacier

  • Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate flew to the northern tip of the Chiatibo glacier, where a climate change expert explained how it was retreating
  • They later observed damage and emergency response drills in a village in Chitral that had been hit by floods

ISLAMABAD: Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate on Wednesday visited a melting glacier in the Hindu Kush mountain range not far from Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, witnessing first hand the impact of climate change their trip is seeking to highlight.
They flew by helicopter to the northern tip of the Chiatibo glacier, where a climate change expert explained how it was retreating.
It is one of the around 7,000 of Pakistan's 7,200 glaciers that meteorological officials say show signs of melting, citing data gathered over the last 50 years.
Earlier, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had stopped at an airport in Chitral and been given a traditional feathered mountain hat, similar to one gifted to William's mother Princess Diana during her visit to the area in 1991. They were also given an album of photos of Diana during her visit.
William highlighted the visit to the glacier and the challenge of climate change, a major theme of their five-day trip, in a speech the previous evening at a reception hosted by the British High Commission at Pakistan's national monument in the capital, Islamabad.
Pakistan's northern glaciers and those throughout the Hindu Kush and Himalaya region, are an important water store for 250 million people, and another 1.6 billion rely on rivers originating in the mountains, putting many communities at risk as global temperatures rise.
"This could lead to a loss of over a third of these vital glaciers in less than a century, with enormous impacts not only on the availability of water, but on agriculture and hydropower generation," William said in his speech.
He said he hoped Wednesday's visit to Chitral would help the couple better understand the challenges residents were facing first hand. "I hope to learn what more we all can do to help prevent and mitigate this impending global catastrophe."
Kate and William later observed damage and emergency response drills in a village in Chitral that had been hit by floods due to glaciers melting.
They also vistaed a settlement of the Kalash people, a small indigenous group living in the Chitral region where they met with young people and wore colourful local scarves and headwear while being treated to song and dance.