KUWAIT: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday urged the two Kuwaiti financial giants to help Pakistan overcome it’s energy shortage and development of infrastructure through investments in Thar Coal and building of Gwadar Port’s facilities. “We have one of the world’s largest coal reserves-175 billion tons in Thar. The Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) should consider investing in mining of that coal and generation of electricity with it,” he stressed.
The Prime Minister pleaded this during his separate meetings with Acting Director General Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic
Development (KFAED) Hesham Ibrahim Al-Waqayan and Acting Managing Director KIA Othman Ibrahim Al-Isa here on the second day of his two-day official visit to the oil-rich Arab state. Gilani who met the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al- Jaber Al-Sabah, also held wide-ranging talks with his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on Monday to bolster bilateral ties.
The Prime Minister offered the top executives of KFAED and KIA to take advantage of the liberal investment regime as well as the investment-friendly incentives in Pakistan. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, Chairman Board of Investment Salim Mandviwala, senior PPP leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Pakistan’s Ambassador in Kuwait Iftikhar Aziz and senior officials were also present in the meetings.
During his meeting with Chairman KIA, the Prime Minister said, Pakistan is willing to offer Kuwait a portion of land of its strategically located Gwadar port for setting up a terminal for the storage of its strategic oil reserves. “We would also welcome KIA’s investment for the development of Gwadar Port facilities and its related infrastructure projects”, he added.
Gilani also sought the KIA’s investment for establishment of cold chain and food grain storage facilities, setting up of agro
based industries in horticulture commodities and investment in livestock, dairy and poultry sectors in Pakistan. The produce of these projects can then be supplied to the Union of Consumer Cooperative Society of Kuwait, he added. The Prime Minister appreciated the role played by Pakistan- Kuwait Investment Company (PKIC) in Pakistan and said the PKIC should be allowed to participate in larger number of mega development projects in the country like done by the Kuwait-China Investment Company.
Gilani said Sharia-compliant Islamic Banking is another sector where Pakistan can benefit the experience of Kuwait Finance House (KFH), a subsidiary of KIA, adding, the opening of KFH branches in Pakistan would be welcomed. The Prime Minister invited the Chairman KIA to lead a delegation of Kuwaiti investors on a visit to Pakistan to assess first-hand the investment opportunities available in our country, and decide to avail them to the mutual benefit of both sides.
KIA is estimated to hold in excess of $ 200 billion of assets, and is reportedly one of the largest Sovereign Wealth Funds in the World. During the meeting with DG Kuwait Fund Hesham Ibrahim Al- Waqayan, the Prime Minister hailed the Fund’s recent decision for funding the Neelum-Jhelum project with US dollars 40.8 million and said Pakistan would welcome and appreciate further funding of more hydro power projects to help the country to overcome present power shortages. Referring to the colossal damage caused by the floods in Pakistan, Gilani said that Kuwait Fund should consider participation in at least two major infrastructure projects in Pakistan every year, instead of one at present.
He hoped that the Kuwait Fund’s Mission will soon visit Pakistan for discussions and approval of Pakistan’s two projects, currently under its consideration, including the establishment of 1,000 schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province ($ 43 million) and the establishment of Home Economics and Management Sciences College in Islamabad ($ 28 million). The Prime Minister also sought extension in the validity period of KFAED’s ongoing projects in Pakistan, keeping in view the economic difficulties faced by the country, which at times cause delay in timely completion of the Fund’s financed projects.
The Acting DG Kuwait Fund told APP that his organization had agreed to provide funds for construction of 1,000 funds for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and he would visit Pakistan in June to discuss details. He said the Kuwait Fund had already invested half a billion dollar in Pakistan and has identified several new projects for more funding.
The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, commonly known as the Kuwait Fund, is the State of Kuwait’s agency for the provision and administration of financial and technical assistance to developing countries. With the recent decision to provide $ 40.8 million financing for Neelum-Jhelum project, the Kuwait Fund has previously provided 15 soft-term loans to Pakistan amounting to about 109 million Kuwaiti Dinars equivalent to about 372 million U.S. dollars for financing projects in various sectors.
Furthermore Assuring all-out support to the foreign investors and protection of their investments and capital gains, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday invited the Kuwaiti investors and entrepreneurs to take advantage of the business- friendly environment in Pakistan. “Pakistan has steadfastly pursued liberalization and de-regulation of economy and the privatization process. There is no upper limit of foreign equity and no restriction on repatriation of capital, profits and dividends”, he maintained.
The Prime Minister expressed these views in a luncheon meeting with the Kuwaiti businessmen and entrepreneurs here at the Kuwait Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on the second day of his two-day official visit to Kuwait. He said that with an attractive package of tax incentives, investments in Pakistan were given comprehensive legal protection. Referred to the signing of a bilateral Agreement on Encouragement and Reciprocal Protection of Investment on Mondayafter his talks with the Prime Minister of Kuwait at Bayan Palace, Gilani said that after this agreement, any possible concerns that a prospective Kuwaiti investor might have nurtured about the safety of investment in Pakistan, have been put to rest.
Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani left for Pakistan here on Tuesday after a two-day official visit.
Input from Agencies