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.


Man suspected of killing wife, three children in Australia fire

Updated 35 min 46 sec ago

Man suspected of killing wife, three children in Australia fire

  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country was ‘shocked, saddened and devastated’ by the tragedy
  • A passer-by who tried to intervene in the situation was also taken to hospital to be treated for facial burns

SYDNEY: An ex-rugby league player is suspected of murdering his three children and estranged wife in Australia by burning them alive inside their car, in what police described as one of the most horrific incidents they have encountered.

Officers said 31-year-old Hannah Clarke died in a Brisbane hospital on Wednesday just hours after her three children aged three, four and six were found dead in the car on a suburban street.

Her husband, Rowan Baxter, who also died, allegedly approached the vehicle and doused it with petrol before setting it alight, The Australian newspaper reported.

The paper said Clarke jumped from the burning car and rolled on the ground, saying “he’s poured petrol on me.”

Officials said she was rushed to hospital with severe burns following the “horrific” incident but later succumbed to her injuries.

Baxter, a 42-year-old former rugby league player for the New Zealand Warriors, was believed to be in the burning vehicle but got out and died on a footpath.

Queensland Police detective inspector Mark Thompson said Thursday that Baxter died as a result of burns and a self-inflicted wound.

“Information that’s to hand has led us to believe that the Baxter children and Hannah Clarke were killed and I don’t believe there’s any suspicious circumstances around the death of Rowan Baxter,” he said.

Clarke’s sister-in-law, Stacey Roberts, set up a fundraiser to pay for funeral costs and support Hannah’s parents, who she said had “exhausted themselves to try and help Hannah escape this monster.”

“All those who knew Hannah or had even just met her once would know how much of a beautiful soul she was. Her children (were) her life,” Roberts posted on Facebook.

The page has so far raised almost Aus$100,000 ($67,000).

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country was “shocked, saddened and devastated” by the tragedy, which has led to an outpouring of grief on social media.

“Hannah and her three children were so senselessly and maddeningly murdered in what has occurred in a terrible act of violence and it just grieves our hearts terribly today,” he said.

Natasha Stott Despoja, a former senator and chair of anti-violence group Our Watch, called for stronger action to address violence against women in Australia, which she described as a “national emergency.”

“I know people want change, people are angry & sad today,” she tweeted. “How long before we stop this slaughter in our suburbs?“

A passer-by who tried to intervene in the situation was also taken to hospital to be treated for facial burns, a Queensland Ambulance Service spokesperson said.

The emergency responders who attended the scene have been stood down from their duties and will receive support, he added.