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High risk high reward: Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa brings investment roadshow to Karachi

Despite its high risk environment, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) offer a high return on investment in various areas – hydro-power and mines and mineral sectors in particular – officials of the K-P government told investors while kicking off their first Investment Roadshow (IRS) here today.

Unlike most public sector events that lack seriousness of purpose, the IRS reflected the provincial government’s eagerness for new investment vital for the economic revival in the conflict-stricken region of K-P and Fata. The delegates from K-P and Fata seemed to have done their homework on economic benefits of investing into the north-western region of Pakistan.

Positive in their body language, the visiting delegates were seen educating participants about investment potential of their region and distributing flyers and brochures that contained comprehensive information – including case studies – about business opportunities in K-P and Fata. The documents highlighted regulatory concessions such as property tax exemptions and the government’s plans to offer additional incentives to hydel-based independent power producers.

“The need of the hour is to invest in this region and bring it at par with the rest of the country,” said chief guest and K-P’s Minister for Industries and Commerce, Bakht Baidar, while addressing the investors.

The new provincial regime in K-P, Baidar said, believes in pro-business policies, free market and competition. The K-P government would like the private sector to lead the region’s economic development, he said, announcing they had planned 2000 special economic zones.

There aren’t many work opportunities in the public sector, the minister said. On the other hand, he said, 75% of the industry is shut in the region. There are about 65,000 skilled workers in the region, he said, if they don’t find work, they could be exploited by elements that have destroyed the region’s peace.

The KP government is targeting local investors, the expats and international firms through its investment campaign. A first of its kind, the Karachi IRS was held with a theme: Exploring the Investment Friendly Environment in K-P and Fata. It is part of a series of similar roadshows to be organised in Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait, Kuala Lumpur, Oslo, London and the United States. The next IRS is planned for Dubai in the last quarter of the current year.

The IRS is part of the Economic Revitalisation of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata (ERKF) project, which has been initiated under a grant from the Multi Donor Trust Fund and administered by the World Bank. The project aims to support the creation of sustainable employment opportunities for the people of KP and Fata, thereby addressing the core strategic objective of stimulating economic activity and investment in the region.

The ISR has three main objectives which include creating awareness about investment opportunities in K-P and Fata region; promoting specific opportunities – mines and mineral industry and the power sector for example; and guiding investors to the right government personnel, officials said.

Among various areas of investment in K-P and Fata region, the provincial government is mainly betting on the mines and minerals sector, and the hydro-power sector.

The region, according to the documents provided by the delegates, has extensive reserves of high value marble, granite as well as other precious stones, which caters to over 80% of the country’s demand – the region’s marble and granite export projection for 2020 is $2.45 billion.

In the power sector, according to Baidar there is over 25,000 megawatts (MW) of unexploited hydropower potential, which is approximately 42% of the total country’s potential.

Pakistan’s peak time energy requirement is 19,000 MW, while K-P alone can has the capacity to produce 40,000 MW, said Rifat Parvez, director Board of Investment in the K-P government.

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