recorder report

ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a conference on Friday while stressing the need for active involvement of local investors and businessmen in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects said that it will open up huge job opportunities for Pakistani people.

Speaking at the roundtable conference here organized by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), they said that so far local investors and businessmen are reluctant to actively join the CPEC projects.

They said that there are significant chances for Pakistani investors to take advantage of the current regional situation, saying that a number of Pakistani sectors have significant future to grow rapidly, especially textile sector. They said that CPEC is not only related to infrastructure projects but it also includes hundreds of China-sponsored scholarships for Pakistani students and other training activities as it covers from manufacturing sector to cooperation in science and technology as well. The participants lament that there is not significant awareness among the Pakistani people on the entire corridor projects and the government and the media should play a leading role in this connection.

The conference was told that biggest natural resource of Pakistan is the youth and the government is required to invest in the youth to take full advantage of utilizing the natural talent of the Pakistani youth. By nurturing this natural talent leveraging the 4th Industrial Revolution (powered digitally), Pakistan is in a unique position to access the global market for consumers, products and services. By focusing on developing policies that will enable the digital economy, the youth of Pakistan will be key drivers in this new economy which will lead to social and financial inclusion, access to education and health care and economic participation of women which will help in attracting local and foreign investment.

The participants were told that ACCA has drawn a roadmap with key deliverables essential to continue Pakistan's progression towards achieving socio-economic prosperity. One of the big ticket items is tax and foreign exchange regulation reforms. According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2017-18, taxation policy and tax collecting agency's mindset, preceded by corruption, is the second biggest impediment to ease of doing business and global competitiveness rankings of Pakistan. In the past, measures have been taken for curbing corruption but the taxation system requires more trust-driven and transparent policy. Procedural reforms in foreign direct investment coming into Pakistan are necessary for global participation in Pakistan's economy. There is a need to make all the investment related policies investment-friendly, they underlined.

ACCA Pakistan Chief Sajeed Aslam speaking on the occasion said that the body organized the 2nd edition of Pakistan Leadership Conversation (PLC) in major cities of the country including Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore during March 2018 to create awareness among the people about the CPEC.

He said that the main objective of the PLC is a forum for leaders to sit together and explore forward thinking policy choices in connection with taking the country forward. The theme is "Collective Vision for an Emerging Pakistan" and it featured over 40 local and foreign conversation leaders to deliberate and propose policy recommendations based on ACCA's global research and professional insights. He said that based on the ideas discussed and ongoing research carried out by the ACCA worldwide, it is expected that during the next five years Pakistan's annual growth rate will remain over 7 percent.

Aslam said, "ACCA has 200,000 members across the globe and these members work all over the world to build the profession and make society fairer and more transparent and can play an active role in marketing the positive aspects of Pakistan's economy worldwide."

The ACCA members pledged to collaborate with private and public sectors to drive social and economic growth for an emerging Pakistan. Key focus is on average 7 percent GDP growth over the next 5 years and bringing Pakistan's ranking in the top 50 for Global Competitiveness Index and Ease of doing business.

The ACCA has helped define some of the vital elements required for delivering on socio-economic development across Pakistan. One of the key items that is at the heart of the conversation has been the role CPEC will play under China's Belt and Road initiative (BRI). The ACCA is playing its part by utilizing its worldwide reach with BRI countries, engaging policymakers, academia and business to realign priorities and strategies to take full advantage of the potential that CPEC has to offer.

The correlation between innovation and economic growth is the cornerstone of development. For Pakistan to achieve certain development goals, certain sectors of the economy need overhaul which include the financial markets, access to bank credit and governance structures of family owned businesses that require revamping to expand the access to capital from seed capital to growth capital. The ACCA has taken a key interest in this area by creating awareness of the central bank's recent reforms to support SMEs, Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan's private equity related initiatives and its implementation, expansion of retail penetration in Pakistan Stock Exchange, succession of family owned business and knowledge sharing forums including 'Startup eco-system' to support innovation.