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Gen. Asim’s Economic Revival Plan of $100 Billion By Kashif Mirza

Byadmin

Sep 7, 2023

The writer is an

economist, anchor,

analyst and the

President of All

 Pakistan Private

Schools’ Federation

president@Pakistan

privateschools.com

Amid a gloomy economic atmosphere and lingering wheat, cotton, and dollar crisis, Army Chief General Asim Munir has signaled toward the country’s bright future in view of the upcoming huge foreign investments in various sectors. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim highlighted the pivotal role of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), emphasizing its potential to attract substantial investments of up to $100 billion from countries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, and others. Pakistan’s army chief, General Asim Munir, has announced his plans to attract massive foreign investment in the agriculture sector and to stop the smuggling of Iranian petrol. Gen Asim said he had secured promises from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, and Kuwait to invest a total of $75-100 billion in Pakistan, mainly in the farming industry. He also said he had asked the Saudi and UAE rulers to lend $10 billion each to Pakistan to improve its foreign exchange reserves, which would be repaid in rupees. The military leadership presented an Economic Revival Plan, stated to be bigger than the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), to address the nation’s continued struggles with growth. The plan is focused on harnessing the country’s untapped potential in key sectors through local development and foreign investments mainly from Gulf countries and expediting project implementation. There is an urgent need for export-oriented foreign direct investments (FDIs) so the army chief pledged the full support of the military, recognizing the plan’s importance for the national prosperity. The plan envisages capitalizing Pakistan’s untapped potential in key sectors of defense production, agriculture, livestock, minerals and mining, information technology, and energy, through indigenous development as well as investments from friendly countries. In his speech, Gen Asim assured the army’s all-out support to complement the government’s efforts for the revival plan, considered to be fundamental to the socio-economic prosperity of the Pakistanis and reclaiming Pakistan’s rightful stature in the comity of the nations. The plan aims to foster collaboration between the Centre and provinces to promote timely decision-making and avoid duplication. It will promote the concepts of one government and collective government to remove all barriers to investment and business activities. The investment will come from the Gulf countries and the army will play a key role in the coordination of the projects. If this project is completed, by 2035, Pakistan could become a trillion-dollar economy, a game-changer project. Under the SIFC, direct job opportunities would be provided to 15 to 20 million people and indirect job opportunities to another 75 to 100 million people in the next four to five years. Along with this, the SIFC project will generate exports of $70 billion and import substitution of equal amounts in the next four to five years. The SIFC plan will also increase Pakistan’s foreign direct investment by $100 billion. Under the project, foreign exchange reserves will also be enhanced in the next four to five years, which will lead to a reduction in the economic difficulties currently facing the country. The security and economy were closely related to each other which is why the Pakistan Army will spend all its energy on the management, coordination, and success of the project. Export-oriented FDIs held the key to economic revival, the government had, therefore, decided to adopt a holistic and whole-of-government approach. By focusing on the role of exchange rates in Pakistan’s economic landscape, the importance of aligning the State Bank’s rates and the exchange rate for hawala channels is important, harmonizing these rates would naturally channel remittances through the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). The Chief of Army Staff, Gen Asim Munir, vowed to extend all our support to the Government of Pakistan for the ‘ Green Pakistan Initiative’ and bringing about Agriculture reforms. Again the personal presence and speech by the COAS at the ‘Dust to Development’ summit also signaled that the dust is settling down and development is coming. The messages were very clear that we must never lose hope. 

General Asim Munir’s Vision for Development and Economic Prosperity of Pakistan is based on our social responsibility to play our collective role in the country’s economy. In nuclear-armed Pakistan, with the world’s fifth largest military and a history of military rule, the army chief tends to be the most powerful leader — at times even perceived as the de facto leader due to significant influence over Pakistan’s domestic and foreign policies. Gen. Munir took charge amid continued political and economic turmoil in Pakistan. Civil-military relations had been greatly tarnished under Bajwa’s six-year tenure. Gen. Munir restored the military’s image from criticism to praise and restored its public image. In the pursuit of a progressive and prosperous Pakistan, visionary leaders have always played a pivotal role in shaping the nation’s destiny. One such influential figure is General Asim Munir, whose initiatives for development and economic growth have left a profound impact on the country. As a seasoned military leader and strategist, General Munir brought fresh perspectives to governance, emphasizing the importance of a strong economy, innovation, and inclusive development. This article delves into the initiatives undertaken by General Asim Munir and their impact on Pakistan’s journey towards economic prosperity. The COAS made four key points. First, the formation of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) to bring all stakeholders to one platform for investors was the result of collaboration between the government and state institutions. Secondly, the SIFC has laid down new rules for the ease of doing business. Thirdly, and importantly, what was not clear before has now been clarified. These rules are for domestic as well as foreign investors. Any discrimination against domestic investors does not go well with foreign investors. Fourthly, the investor-friendly system will provide easy terms and conditions for business. 

Let it be clear that the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. General Asim Munir recognized the fundamental importance of well-developed infrastructure for the nation’s growth and connectivity. Removing the hurdles in the progress of work of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was one of General Munir’s landmark achievements. This game-changing initiative brought significant foreign investment, improving Pakistan’s connectivity with China and Central Asia. The Gwadar Port, a vital component of the CPEC, has also emerged again as a strategic hub for international trade, opening up new avenues for economic growth and regional integration. This initiative not only reduced regional disparities but also facilitated the transportation of goods, boosting economic activity and trade across the country. Pakistan’s chronic energy crisis was a top priority for General Munir. He spearheaded initiatives to diversify the energy mix by investing in renewable sources such as solar, wind, and hydropower. These efforts aimed to reduce the country’s dependency on fossil fuels and enhance energy security while promoting sustainable development. General Munir took decisive action to address this challenge by promoting a diversified and sustainable energy mix. His support encouraged investment in renewable energy sources, leading to a surge in solar and wind power projects across the country. Through incentives and policy reforms, Pakistan witnessed a considerable increase in private sector participation in the energy sector, enhancing energy security and reducing dependency on costly fossil fuels. Agriculture remains the backbone of Pakistan’s economy, and General Munir recognized its significance in ensuring food security and alleviating poverty. Through the ‘Green Pakistan Initiative’ and bringing about Agriculture reforms, his initiatives focused on modernizing the agriculture sector by introducing advanced farming techniques, promoting research and development, and ensuring the efficient utilization of water resources through better irrigation practices. 

Gen. Asim Munir vows to steer Pakistan out of crises! General Asim Munir’s Vision for Development and Economic Prosperity of Pakistan is based on our social responsibility to play our collective role in the country’s economy, signalled that the dust is settling down and development is coming. 

General Munir understood the vital role of human capital in the country’s progress. To promote economic prosperity, he emphasized investing in education and skill development programs. This included revamping the education system, establishing technical and vocational training centers, and encouraging research and innovation. By nurturing a skilled and knowledgeable workforce, General Munir aimed to drive economic growth and create a competitive advantage in the global market. He encouraged collaborations between academia and the private sector, leading to the emergence of research-driven industries and startups. General Munir recognized that embracing innovation and technology was crucial for Pakistan’s economic development in the 21st century. He championed the establishment of research and technology parks, incubators, and accelerators to promote innovation-driven startups. Furthermore, he encouraged collaborations between the private sector, academia, and government agencies to leverage technological advancements for various industries, such as IT, healthcare, and agriculture. General Asim Munir believed in building strong ties with the international community to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) and boost trade opportunities. He worked towards creating a conducive business environment, simplifying regulations, and offering competitive incentives to attract multinational companies and foreign investors. Through increased global engagement, Pakistan gained access to new markets and technologies, fostering economic growth and job creation. To stimulate economic growth, General Munir sought to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) and strengthen trade ties with international partners. He encouraged investor-friendly policies, making it easier for foreign companies to set up businesses in Pakistan. By establishing a transparent and business-friendly regulatory environment, General Munir aimed to boost investor confidence and increase FDI inflows. Under his leadership, Pakistan negotiated free trade agreements with various countries and regional blocs to enhance market access for Pakistani products and services. These agreements not only opened up the way for new export opportunities but also encouraged foreign investment in export-oriented industries. In his pursuit of economic prosperity, General Munir did not overlook the importance of mineral development environmental conservation, and sustainable development. He actively promoted initiatives of mineral development, and to mitigate the impacts of climate change, preserve biodiversity, and protect natural resources. Emphasis was placed on adopting green technologies, promoting renewable energy, and implementing eco-friendly policies to ensure a sustainable and resilient economy for future generations. Pakistan Army takes pride in serving its nation, with dedication to the welfare of the people and the country. The army belonged to the people, and the people belonged to the army, emphasizing the strong bond between the armed forces and the civilians. The army chief’s comments come amid a spate of terrorist attacks in the country after the banned militant Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan ended its ceasefire with the government, ordering its militants to carry out attacks throughout the country. Pakistan is passing through one of her most critical junctures and this requires the development of national consensus by all stakeholders to sail through the confronted challenges of the economy and terrorism. Over the past few months, the law and order situation in the country has worsened, with terrorist groups like the outlawed TTP, the Islamic State group, and other Groups executing attacks with near impunity across the country. Since August 2021, when the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, Pakistan has been under steady attack by the TTP and its affiliates. In 2022, 365 terrorist attacks took place inside Pakistan, killing 971 civilians, terrorists and security personnel. The first half of 2023 brought 187 attacks and 572 more deaths. Insurgents in Balochistan have also stepped up their violent activities and formalized a nexus with the TTP. The country is facing challenges on the economic front with its low foreign exchange reserves which are barely enough to cover a month’s imports. It is unclear when the country will receive more inflows from bilateral and multilateral institutions, giving rise to default fears. The whole idea of the SIFC cropped up in the table talks with the Gulf counterparts. These states want peace, security, and action. Action in our case is procrastinated by pure incompetence, procedures, too many layers, corruption, fear of NAB, and a lot more. This is the cost the economy is bearing due to the failure to reform the civil services. There is a multiplicity of institutions, created under donor-funded programs without much thought. On top of it is the indecisive politics and judicial overreach. Failure to privatize Pakistan Steel Mills and the Reko Diq fiasco are well-known cases. Civilian efforts to ease the doing of business invariably ended up adding just another window.  Pakistan enters its 76th year of independence as a brittle state with a dysfunctional polity, a radicalized populace, and weak external relations. Despite the agreement with the International Monetary Fund on a $3 billion Stand-By Arrangement (SBA), the economy remains in terrible shape with the payments balance under heavy pressure. The nine-month loan facility simply buys Islamabad a little time to seek other credit lines. The country is facing challenges on the economic front with its low foreign exchange reserves which are barely enough to cover a month’s imports. It is unclear when the country will receive more inflows from bilateral and multilateral institutions, giving rise to default fears. Pakistan’s economic fundamentals remain problematic. Inflation stands at 38 percent, the highest since 1957. The government estimates gross domestic product (GDP) grew at just 0.3 percent for the July 2022-June 2023 fiscal year, with the industrial sector contracting by 3 percent. Pakistan is still suffering the aftereffects of the devastating August 2022 floods, which caused agricultural output to fall for the first time in two decades. Remittances from overseas workers declined by 13 percent and foreign exchange reserves stand at only $4.1 billion, just enough to cover a month’s worth of imports. For the 2023-2024 fiscal year, Pakistan faces $22 billion in external debt payments. To avert default, the government has imposed severe import restrictions, relaxed only for essential goods like fuel, machinery, and medicines. This policy has led to factory closures and plunged the industrial sector into recession. General Asim Munir called on all the stakeholders to develop a national consensus to confront challenges posed by the economy and terrorism. General Asim Munir’s initiatives for the development and economic prosperity of Pakistan have been instrumental in shaping the nation’s path towards progress.  As Pakistan continues to build upon the legacy of General Munir’s vision, it moves towards a more prosperous and promising future. Gen Asim Munir looks firm and optimistic to bring huge foreign investment from our Muslim countries and it will certainly make a difference in economic indicators. We can transform the destiny of Pakistan and its people, however, not happen without hard work and staying the course on the path to progress and development. In these circumstances, Chief of the Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir reiterated Pakistan has to progress and that no power in the world can stop the country from its journey on the road to progress, and to make Pakistan green again as Allah almighty has blessed the country with various resources. In the long term, the economy may prove to be the stiffer challenge because it is not so amenable to military control as politics and internal security. Gen Munir expressed his determination and assured to steer Pakistan out of the prevailing crises, stating, “We have decided to lead Pakistan out of the current crisis. Allah has bestowed Pakistan with numerous gifts. Drawing attention to Pakistan’s potential for progress, the army chief asserted, “No external force can hinder our journey towards advancement.” He reaffirmed his belief in the nation’s capability to achieve greatness in all domains. Through strategic planning, innovative thinking, and a focus on inclusivity, Gen. Asim laid the foundation for a strong and resilient economy. The initiatives he championed in infrastructure, energy, agriculture, education, and technology have positively impacted various sectors, leading to increased investment, job creation, and improved living standards. COAS Munir hailed the government’s plans for uplift, expressing his confidence in the transformation of the different sectors in the landscape of Pakistan. Under his leadership, Pakistan will witness a development and economic revolution. 

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