Finance Minister Asad Umar says the government wants to improve the ease of doing business in the country and incentivise investments. He announced that the Finance Bill or mini budget will be presented on January 23.
Speaking to the business community in Karachi, he emphasized the importance of the private sector in the country’s economy. The private sector runs the economy but it needs to see improvement to increase its investment, he said.
No matter how patriotic a person is, he will only invest to a certain extent if the terms aren’t right, said Umar.
Speaking about the situation before his government came into power, he said it was difficult to invest in Pakistan. Taxes and electricity prices were barriers to investment, he said, adding that the way tax was being charged was creating problems for investors.
Lauding the PTI for being the first Pakistani party to include ease of business improvement in its election manifesto, Umar said the Board of Investment is setting up a cell at PM House to improve this.
If you look at the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index, half of it is in Karachi, he said. In the January 23 Finance Bill you’ll see the steps we have taken to improve our ease of doing business ranking, he explained.
The finance minister said that other administrative measures to make it easier to invest in Pakistan will be announced towards the end of the month. We will continue to try to make it easier to invest in Pakistan, he promised.
He said there was very little investment in Pakistan, just consumption. No investments or savings, means our imports were capital financed, he explained. He clarified that his government is not trying to incentivise consumption, especially not imported consumption. We want to control it, Umar added.
The government is working to incentivise investment. We want savings and investments to increase, he said.
The government’s duty is to bring in a policy that benefits everyone, but especially the underprivileged, said Umar. All the decisions made by the PTI government in the last five months have been in line with this duty, he said, counting changes in the electricity tariffs, gas and taxes among measures taken by the government to benefit the underprivileged.
Giving the example of East Asia, he said countries there have massive investment now and brought their people out of poverty by engaging in intraregional trade. However, he counted the political relationship with India as a barrier to this.