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Full Version: Land not yet given to any country, but work is in progress: Investment Minister
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Meeting of NA Standing Committee on Investment :

* Govt engaged with US for signing bilateral investment treaty

By Sajid Chaudhry

ISLAMABAD: Investment Minister Waqar Ahmed on Monday denied the government had given its land to any country on lease for agriculture purpose despite interest shown by Gulf States.

Briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Investment, he said the government had not given land to any country however a legal work was being done by the Punjab government for such a project in Cholistan.

MNA Ghulam Haider Samejo chaired the standing committee meeting, which was given briefing on the draft investment policy 2009-15. Responding to members’ queries, Khan said the land was a provincial subject so intending countries would be referred to the provinces when they approach the federal government. He told members the federal government was suggesting that foreign investors would have to share all the crops with local on 50/50 percent basis and the land would be rented out on lease only rather than transferring them for a certain period.

Security: Highlighting the features of the new investment policy, Khan said the law and order situation had improved after the Swat military operation and security was no more a concern for investors.

He said foreign investors were more concerned about transparency and continuation of policies rather than the security issue and added that they express their concerns whether the policies and political stability would continue with the arrival of a new government at helm of affairs. In this regard, investment minister said the government wanted to bring the policy before the parliament to involve all the political parties and get it approved unanimously and the investors would be provided all kind of protection.

He informed the legislators that Pakistan’s government had signed bilateral investment treaty with 47 countries and it is engaged with the United States to sign a treaty as well, which is demanding efficient dispute resolution mechanism. He said the issue was covered under the proposed draft policy.

The minister said the government plans to set up a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant in Karachi to address the issue of energy. Furthermore, he said Pakistan had a huge 220 billion tonnes of coal in Thar and the government plans to set up a plant for generating over 5,000 megawatts electricity.

Meanwhile, the committee members expressed concern over the provision of land for the establishment of Special Economic Zone to foreign investors and 10-year tax holiday. It suggested that the facility should be given to the local investors as well. Earlier, the committee members were briefed about the draft policy and their input was sought before putting it before the cabinet.
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