Malaysians sceptical about Pakistan’s investment proposals

November 8th, 2008 - 3:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur/Islamabad, Nov 8 (IANS) Pakistan is trying hard to woo foreign investment from countries like Malaysia, promising them a good business climate and assuaging their security fears. However, a team of Malaysian media persons returned from Pakistan unimpressed.Pakistani authorities, among them Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, sought to remove fears from investors and cited 12 contracts signed during the China visit of President Asif Ali Zardari.

“There is a sale on in Pakistan and everything is cheap. This sums up Punjab province Governor Salman Taseer’s message to foreign investors who are undecided about whether it is safe to invest in a country that suffers from bomb attacks because it is a frontline in America’s ‘war of terror’,” wrote The New Straits Times Saturday.

Since the installation of a new government about eight months ago, Pakistan has been trying hard to woo investment from neighbours like China and friends such as Saudi Arabia to refill its depleting foreign reserves and put the economy on track.

It is also reaching out to countries that have companies in Pakistan, such as Malaysia, to convince them to continue to pour in investment at a time when firms are trimming their budgets in anticipation of a global recession.

Statistics from Pakistan’s Board of Investment show that Malaysian companies contributed the second largest chunk of investments, US$205.9 million in the first two months of the 2008-2009 financial year.

Taseer, known to be close to the Bhutto family and appointed to the job recently, says now is the best time to invest in Pakistan.

“You can get fantastic buys. The property market is cheap, the equities market is cheap and there is a currency bubble in the value of the Pakistani rupee, which is expected to drop in value against the US dollar next month.

“Our foreign ownership laws are some of the most liberal in any country. You can come in and buy a company and have a 100 percent stake,” he told a group of visiting Malaysian reporters.

Despite Taseer’s encouraging view of the state of health of Pakistan’s economy and its commercial prospects, others are more sceptical.

The newspaper quoted a senior journalist with Dawn News television station saying that many are worried that the economy is on the verge of collapse.

“This new government has more than 40 ministries. That’s 40 politicians and their families whose expenses the public will have to subsidise at a time when our foreign reserves are at US$6 billion,” said M.K. Abbas, Dawn News deputy director of news and current affairs.

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