The writer is an
analyst and the
President of all
It’s great that the Pakistan government has constituted a Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) to be a single window interface facilitation to potential foreign investors. All Pakistan Private Schools Federation-APPSF congratulated COAS and the government of Pakistan for the launch and setting up of a very unique and visionary plate form of investment facilitation for the prosperity and bright future of Pakistan by setting up a Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC). The idea of SIFC came from COAS Gen. Asim Munir during the meeting of the National Security Committee where he elucidated his vision for inviting foreign investments from friendly countries, particularly from GCC countries but after fixing administrative issues that foreign investors faced when they came in Pakistan. It is pertinent to mention that the process of security clearances of foreign companies is directly related to the intelligence networking of the state and the presence of the military in the body will help smoothen the process of work-related permissions and approvals where security clearances are involved. The idea of instant approvals through the single window interface, Special Investment Facilitation Council, is only possible when all stakeholders– including law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies– are at one table to mitigate the infamous red-tapes that hamper and discourage foreign investments in Pakistan. The Pakistan Army’s crucial contribution to this economic development is an essential component and the army’s vital role in boosting the economy and promoting socioeconomic success for the country. Attracting investment from friendly countries remains one of the key goals of the SIFC. The immediate task is to increase FDI to $5 billion, collective wisdom was needed to tackle economic challenges. The SIFC aims to streamline the process of foreign direct investment (FDI) by routing it through a one-window operation under one roof. This will remove the obstacle of up to 90 government NOCs (No Objection Certificates) that often take over 18 months to process licensing. The SIFC will focus on defense production, agriculture, mines and minerals, IT and energy sectors, with a target of achieving $100 billion in FDI within three years. The ultimate goal is to achieve a $1 trillion GDP level by 2035. Moreover, Pakistan is inviting investments in key sectors of defense production, mineral exploration, and mining, that are directly linked with work approvals in sensitive and remote areas of KPK, Punjab, and Baluchistan, therefore, the presence of military men would help to smooth the process at approval as well as execution level for foreign investors. The Economic Revival Plan acknowledges the significance of domestic development and foreign investment. As a significant stakeholder, the Pakistan Army has promised to support the government’s initiatives fully. The army’s engagement provides the plan with the strategic experience, resources, and credibility it needs to succeed; thus, this commitment is essential. Economic growth requires an environment that is secure and stable. In order to maintain stability and national security, the Pakistan Army protects both domestic and foreign assets and creates an environment that is favorable for commercial activity and inspires confidence in investors by successfully combating internal and external dangers. The SIFC’s organizational design emphasizes the value of cooperation between civilian and military leadership. The involvement of army members in the implementation and executive committees denotes a coordinated strategy for accomplishing financial objectives. This synergy encourages wise decision-making, optimizes resource use, and prevents effort duplication, hastening investment and project execution. One of the primary industries targeted for expansion and development is the production of defense goods. The Pakistan Army actively participates in defense manufacturing, which has a substantial economic impact. The army promotes technical improvements, job generation, and self-sufficiency by aiding the domestic defense industry. Additionally, it increases export potential while also strengthening national security capabilities. Building infrastructure is essential for boosting the economy and luring investors. The Pakistan Army actively takes part in infrastructure projects all around the nation thanks to its engineering and building capabilities, which create jobs while improving connectivity, facilitating trade, and bolstering the general investment climate by constructing roads, bridges, dams, and other vital infrastructure. The economy can be adversely impacted by catastrophes and crises, the Pakistan Army plays a crucial role in reducing the negative consequences of such occurrences because to its well-established disaster response and relief capabilities. If one goes through the history of major foreign investments that came to Pakistan from GCC countries, it is interesting to note that most key investments came to Pakistan when there was the military rule. There is no doubt that in military rule, there is no bureaucratic maze and approvals come directly from one place, military headquarters. Therefore, the high-powered SIFC will be a huge psychological security to future foreign investors who can see that Pakistan has adopted a unified approach to ease investments through a cooperative and collaborative ‘whole of the government approach’ and with the representation of all stakeholders to help in swift project implementation. Army Chief Asim Munir assured Pakistan Army’s all-out support to complement Government’s efforts for Economic Revival Plan, considered fundamental to the socio-economic prosperity of Pakistanis and reclaiming Pakistan’s rightful stature among the comity of nations.
Through the proposed APPSF’s recommendations, coupled with amnesty and tax exemptions, Pakistan will have new 200,000 schools, and 2.5 million teachers to cater over 25 million out-of-school-children. Moreover, new colleges, universities, Vocational and training centers to cater over 5-million students of higher education.
All Pakistan Private Schools Federation (APPSF) has appreciated the vision of COAS and the government’s decision to establish a Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), hailing it as a significant step in the right direction, and hoped that the government would ensure representation of the business community in the Council and expressed their support for the council, emphasizing its role as a single window for multi-domain cooperation and highlighting several key benefits it will bring to Pakistan. APPSF not only welcomes the establishment of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), but also recommended and proposed its potential to boost Pakistan’s economic growth by focusing the investment in education and technology sector. By conducting in-depth research and analysis, the council can also identify another key area of potential and formulate strategies to unlock Pakistan’s latent capabilities, that is education and technology sector. This proactive approach will help to attract investment in education in different sectors that have significant growth prospects, create employment opportunities, and drive overall economic development as well. Additionally, the SIFC can play a pivotal role in enhancing awareness of Pakistan’s untapped potential education and technology sector, through targeted marketing campaigns and promotional activities, the council can showcase the country’s strengths and investment opportunities in the education and technology sector to a global and local audience, and expand its cooperation beyond traditional partners. By streamlining administrative processes, reducing red tape, and implementing investor-friendly policies, the council can create a conducive environment for businesses to thrive. This will not only attract new investments but also encourage existing local and foreign investors to expand their operations, leading to job creation and economic prosperity. By serving as a single window for multi-domain cooperation, preparing a long-term growth roadmap, enhancing awareness of latent potential, exploring new opportunities, and improving the ease of doing business, the SIFC can play a pivotal role in attracting investment, fostering collaboration, and driving sustainable development. The APPSF looks forward to actively participating in the council’s initiatives and contributing to Pakistan’s economic prosperity. APPSF has emphasized the need to enhance the scope of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) beyond the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. In addition to attracting local investments in education and technology, along with the sectors such as defense, agriculture, minerals, IT, and energy. President APPSF advocates for expanding the council’s reach to inside Pakistan alongside China, Africa, Central Asia, and Europe. Pakistan has a number of attractive investment opportunities, including a young and growing population, a strategic location, and a wealth of natural resources. With the right policies and reforms in place, Pakistan could become a major FDI destination in the years to come. The SIFC is a bold and ambitious initiative, but it is one that is worth taking. The SIFC will need to work closely with the private education sector to identify and develop investment opportunities. The private sector will also need to be willing to invest in education in Pakistan, despite the country’s political and security challenges. The SIFC’s success will depend on the government’s ability to create a stable and predictable investment climate. The government will need to address issues such as security, corruption and the rule of law, and the Judicial system. Pakistan’s state-run enterprises have long struggled with inefficiency, leaving the country in dire need of a solution. One promising option is to sublet management while retaining a controlling share of 51pc versus 49pc. By selling up to 49pc of shares, we can achieve three crucial goals: attract foreign and local direct investment, acquire the management skills of international entities, and put an end to the financial hemorrhaging of the national exchequer. Recent examples, such as the PIA’s Roosevelt Hotel, Steel Mills leasing to Russia, and the UAE’s company in the port business, demonstrate the potential success of this approach. By partnering with international entities, we can tap into their expertise and resources, while still maintaining a significant stake in the management of our own institutions. This strategy promises to improve efficiency and profitability.
Pakistan is facing a serious challenge to ensure all children, particularly the most disadvantaged, attend, stay, and learn in school. The APPSF Federation further recommended to Federal & Provincial governments to allocate and spend a minimum of 5% of GDP on education and research for basic and higher education keeping in view the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, recent devastating floods, and high inflation rate. But unfortunately, the government always had funds issues. The Millions of children in flood-hit Pakistan are in dire need of help, school education is at risk for millions of students. Nearly 33 million people including 16 million children affected by the catastrophic floods in Pakistan, and at least 27,000 public & 12,000 private schools were damaged or destroyed across the country depriving millions of children of access to education. The public schooling system only caters to 24 million and the private schooling system caters to 26.9 million, with over 25 million currently out-of-school-children (OOSC). Pakistan needs more than 200,000 schools and 25 million teachers by 2025 to cater to over 25 million out-of-school children. Recognizing the importance of addressing these challenges, APPSF, proposed a comprehensive scheme that incentivizes private sector investment in the education sector of Pakistan, accompanied by amnesty and tax exemptions. This proposal aims to encourage private organizations to contribute significantly to the development of education, leading to improved access, quality, and outcomes for students across the country. The government, under the SIFC, will have to introduce a one-time amnesty scheme for private organizations investing in the education sector, allowing them to invest in the education sector without incurring any penalties or legal consequences. The proposal includes streamlining bureaucratic procedures and reducing unnecessary red tape to ensure a smooth investment process for private organizations. A framework can be established to safeguard the investments of private organizations, ensuring transparency, accountability, and legal protection. The Expected Outcomes would be that Private sector investment will lead to the establishment of more educational institutions, especially in underserved areas, thereby expanding access to quality education. Investments in infrastructure development will result in the construction and renovation of educational facilities, providing students with a conducive learning environment. Moreover, Private sector investment will attract skilled teachers and enable capacity-building programs, ultimately improving the quality of education delivery. The private sector can introduce modern technology and teaching aids to enhance the learning experience and equip students with essential digital skills. The proposed scheme will stimulate economic growth, leading to increased employment opportunities in the education sector. By focusing on underserved areas, the scheme will contribute to narrowing the gender gap in education and promoting gender equality. For the Implementation Strategy; The government will collaborate with education experts, private sector representatives, and relevant stakeholders to develop comprehensive policies and guidelines for the implementation of the proposed scheme. Extensive awareness campaigns will be conducted to inform private organizations about the benefits of investing in the education sector and the incentives provided under the proposed scheme. The government will establish partnerships with private organizations, philanthropic foundations, and international donors to mobilize resources and ensure effective implementation of the scheme. A robust monitoring and evaluation mechanism will be put in place to track the progress of private sector investments and ensure compliance with quality standards and transparency. Private sector investment in the education sector of Pakistan can significantly contribute to overcoming the existing challenges and improving the overall state of education in the country. Through the proposed APPSF’s recommendations, coupled with amnesty and tax exemptions, Pakistan will have new 200,000 schools, and 2.5 million teachers to cater to over 25 million out-of-school children. Moreover, Pakistan will have also new colleges, universities, Vocational and training centers, and Teachers’ Training Centers to cater to over 5 million students of the college, TEVT, and higher education. By fostering collaboration between the government and private sector, we can create a sustainable and inclusive education system that empowers students, enhances their prospects, and paves the way for the socio-economic development of Pakistan as a whole.