Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif touted Pakistan’s economic prospects to the One Belt One Road Pakistan Investment Forum in Hong Kong on Wednesday.
Addressing the forum, Nawaz noted, “From a mere 3 per cent growth in the GDP before 2013, we are now on course to achieve a growth rate of well over 5pc during the current year, which is estimated to rise up to 7pc during the next two years.”
The premier lauded his government’s policy reforms to the crowd in Hong Kong, where he arrived a day ago during his trip to China for the One Belt, One Road forum.
On Wednesday, he met the Chief Executive of Hong Kong Leung Chun-Ying and discussed bilateral ties and ways to further enhance cooperation in multiple spheres.
“These reforms were multi-faceted. We reduced bank interest rates, eliminated tax exemptions to provide a level playing field, strengthened our tax administration, rationalised loan targeted subsidies and widened our social safety nets,” the PM added.
Explaining the investment prospects in Pakistan, Nawaz stated, “Most impressively, the value of our Karachi stock market index (KSE-100)h has tripled in less than four years.”
He highlighted how international economic agencies have been upgrading Pakistan’s economic and financial stability.
“The World Bank forecast a GDP growth rate of 5.2pc for the current year. Standard and Poor has also upgraded its outlook, and expects Pakistan’s debt to fall below 60pc of the GDP by 2018, improving Pakistan’s long-term credit rating to be.”
Recognising the importance of social upheaval, the PM said, “Our government realises that focusing only on growth is not enough. It is imperative to sustain the growth momentum by pursuing a high-growth trajectory, and this cannot be done without ensuring the equitable distribution of the fruits of growth.”
“For this purpose, our government has launched a series of pro-poor initiatives in health, education and social protection. With a universally recognised database of the most disadvantaged people in our country, we are targeting our programs at the poorest of the poor.”
Continuing his address, Nawaz claimed, “Our government realises the fact that nations can only rise when they ascribe to a shared vision of their people for prosperity and development.”
The prime minister pitched ‘Pakistan’s Vision 2025’, saying, “It maps Pakistan joining the top 25 economies of the world, leading to upper-middle income country status by 2025.”
Nawaz stated that certain segments of the economy were thriving, which could prove to be a suitable investment outlet for foreign investors seeking opportunities in the country.
“The service industry, particularly telecommunications, hospitality and online commerce are fast growing into attractive areas for investment. Pakistan is emerging as an expanding market for international products with a fast-growing middle-class, increasing urbanisation, growing popularity of international food products and a rising number of international brands, Pakistan is poised to become a major destination for international businesses.”