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Shahbaz lures UK energy investors

Punjab Chief Minister Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif on Friday invited potential investors’ attention to Pakistan’s energy sector and the lucrative investor-friendly opportunities it presented.

Co-chairing the Pakistan-UK Energy Conference 2013 along with Senior UK Minister Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Shahbaz said with the help of friendly countries the energy crisis would be overcome.

The conference was organised by the High Commission for Pakistan and UK Trade and Investment (UKTI).

“Pakistan offers great rate of returns on investment, and you are welcome to take advantage of the liberal investment regime of the country especially Punjab,” he said.

The chief minister highlighted that the energy sector was the main focus of his government’s plans as set out by the Federal Government in its National Power policy for 2013-18.

“For the economy to grow, energy capacity will have to increase,” he said adding that his government is addressing the energy shortage issue on short-, medium- and long-term basis.

The priority is to shift from thermal to more affordable and cheaper means like hydropower, coal, solar and wind energy resources so that the price of energy could be brought down, he said.

The conference aimed at strengthening the partnership between the two countries and focusing on the energy challenges faced by Pakistan. The event provided a platform for UK based investors to learn more about the energy sector in Pakistan, prospects, and to make business contacts for future energy projects.

Following the meeting, Baroness Warsi said: “The most important aspect of today’s event was bringing people together and making connections that can lead to real business outcomes.

“Pakistan is an investor-friendly economy offering opportunities in conventional as well as alternative modes of energy productions. The UK has the expertise to help develop those opportunities, and I welcome the commitment of the Government of Pakistan, and of the Chief Minister, to making this a reality.”

Other speakers at the event included Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar, and Pakistan High Commissioner for UK Wajid Shamsul Hasan.

Punjab Energy Secretary Usman Akhtar Bajwa made a presentation on the energy situation in Punjab.

Minister of State for Commerce Khurram Dastagir Khan, members of the Punjab Board of Investment and Trade and representatives from UK companies attended the event.

A Q&A session moderated by Lord Tariq Ahmad also took place.

There are over 100 British companies operating in Pakistan. Bilateral trade between the two countries is over £2 billion per annum while a target has been set to increase this to £3bn by 2015.

Economic challenges Separately, addressing the investors/fund managers at a breakfast session hosted by the Standard Chartered Bank, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar reiterated the government’s resolve to face the monumental economic challenges faced by the country.

He said it would be based on the policy of self-reliance, according to a statement issued by the ministry of finance here.

The event was attended by a large number of prominent emerging market credit investors in London and senior Standard Chartered Executives, including Group Chief Executive, Peter Sands.

Dar presented a comprehensive update on the economic and structural policy reforms initiatives taken by the government.

The objectives of the government, he added, include acceleration in growth, fiscal consolidation, promoting domestic and foreign investment and trade, tax and energy sector reforms and strategic partnership to turn around State Owned Enterprises (SOEs).Dar said that Pakistan had one of the most investment and trade friendly regimes with abundant cheap and skilled labour force.

The government would welcome international investors and fund managers to take advantage of the investment and business friendly environment of Pakistan, he added.

The fund managers indicated a strong interest in sovereign bonds being floated by government of Pakistan and assured him of their participation.

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