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Investment in human capital imperative for development: Asad Umar



Asad assures businessmen of clubbing of taxes in next budget

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Asad Umar here on Tuesday said investment in human capital was very imperative and central to development of the country.

“Educating youth and investing in their development is both means to an end and end in itself,” the finance minister said this while addressing the Human Capital Summit here.

The minister said that investing in education and human capital was actually investing in economy as it yields high economic dividends, hence investments in these sectors was actually investing in economy.

He said the government was fully committed to work in this direction.

The minister said that there was need for going beyond monetary statistics when dealing with human development and poverty alleviation, adding that over the years success had been made in terms of poverty reduction and developing human capital as indicators were better today as compare to 20 years back.

However, the pace with which these developments have taken place in the other parts of the world have not taken place same way in Pakistan.

He said that Pakistan would be using multi-dimensional approach for measuring poverty and help alleviate it.

Asad Umar said that for the first time the government was integrating the social protection efforts instead of adopting the current fragmented approach.

Coordinated approach would be used for poverty alleviation and government would set up specific authority for this purpose.

He, however, was of the view that there was need for fiscal space, stressing the need for adopting innovative financial instruments.

He said that Pakistan looks forward towards institution, World Bank and private sector to introduce innovative financial instruments adding that if it required any legislation, the government would do the needful.

He said that government was also improving structure to internally strengthen its institutions while it was also establishing Public-Private Partnership Authority (PPPA) to work with private sector and mobilize funds for not only infrastructure projects but also for social sector.

Later talking to media persons the minister said that Pakistan economy was captured by elite culture and there was need for breaking this stranglehold by opening the economy, making it rule-based, ensure transparent decision-making, strengthen parliament and over-sighting mechanism, transparency and accountability.

Earlier, speaking at the summit, South Asia Region World Bank Group Vice President Hartwig Schafer said that progress has been made in poverty reduction in Pakistan.

He highlighted the need for adopting multi-dimensional approach for poverty measurement by including education, health and their quality in the measurement scale.

He said that women participation in work force was also imperative, saying that only one in three women was participating in labour forces in South Asia.

He also urged private sector and donors to play their role in promoting investments in human capital and lead the country towards sustainable development.






China welcomes Imran Khan’s attendance in 2nd BRF in Beijing



BEIJING: China Tuesday welcomed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s attendance in the second Belt and Road Forum scheduled for April 25-27 and termed China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as highly demonstrative project and set a good example for other projects under Belt and Road Initiative.

“We welcome Prime Minister Imran Khan’s attendance in the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said during his routine briefing held here.

He remarked that with concerted efforts of both China and Pakistan, the CPEC, a flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative has delivered many tangible benefits to the people of two countries with concrete outcomes.

“We have every confidence to work with Pakistan to promote greater progress in this project to deliver greater benefits to our people,” he added.

The spokesperson observed that the CPEC was a highly demonstrative project and it set a good example for other projects under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, at the invitation of Chinese President, Xi Jinping, is scheduled to participate in the second edition of Belt and Road Forum.

He will be accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising federal ministers and other senior officials.

On the first day of the forum, he will attend the inaugural session of the forum and deliver a keynote speech at the plenary meeting of high-level dialogue.

He will also attend the state banquet to be hosted by President Xi Jinping in the honour of world leaders attending the BRF.

The prime minister along with other world leaders will attend the leaders’ roundtable sessions on the second day of the forum.






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Pakistan highly values its ties with China: Hafeez Shaikh



ISLAMABAD: Yao Jing, Ambassador of People’s Republic of China, called on Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs in Islamabad on Monday.

Both sides discussed matters of bilateral interest and underscored the need for enhanced collaboration between the two countries in the areas of mutual benefit.

The Adviser informed the Ambassador that Pakistan highly values its ties with China, which is a sincere friend and has always supported Pakistan in difficult times.

He said that environment in Pakistan for foreign investment was conducive and Chinese businessmen should benefit from it to make investment in various sectors.

He conveyed that the government would facilitate Chinese investors by providing them all possible support to invest in Pakistan. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh deeply appreciated China’s role in the social and economic development of Pakistan.

Appreciating the steps taken by government of Pakistan for revival of economy, the Ambassador said that the Chinese investors wanted to invest in Pakistan and their confidence over the policies and leadership of Pakistan is getting increased.

He reiterated his government’s resolve to continue its support for early execution of various projects under CPEC.

The Ambassador also congratulated Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on assuming the portfolio of Adviser. The meeting discussed the forthcoming visit of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to China and expressed the hope that the visit would further strengthen the existing multifaceted relations between the two neighbours.

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Pak-China FTA to be signed on 28th April



ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of China to Pakistan Yao Jing on Monday said that the Sino-Pak Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Phase II would be signed on 28th April.

Other important CPEC- related agreements will also be signed during China visit of the PM. He said the FTA had been finally concluded after eight years of negotiations and it would be inked by the commerce ministers of two countries during the visit of Pakistani prime minister.
Under the FTA-Phase II, Jing said, China would provide market access to 90% of Pakistani commodities at zero rated duty, while Pakistan would give China market access to 65% tariff lines.
He was addressing a press briefing here at the Chinese Embassy on the upcoming Second Belt and Road Forum to be held in Beijing from 25-27 April. The ambassador said world leaders, including heads of state and government from 37 countries, would attend the Forum’s roundtable summit, but Pakistan being a major partner of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was the most important of all.
“The Chinese Prime Minister and President are looking forward to the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China where he will also hold bilateral meetings with the Chinese leadership to build more consensus on bilateral trade ties,” he added. The Chinese envoy pointed out that China wanted a more prosperous and developed Pakistan as what he said without sustainable development in the neighboring countries, China could not sustain its development.
He said under the CPEC’s industrial cooperation, the first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Rashakai was going to be inaugurated during the current month where 20 factories would be set up initially. He assured that employment in the SEZs would be given to the local people and the latest technology would be transferred from China to Pakistan.
Cooperation in industrial and social sectors would be the main focus of the second phase of CPEC, he added. “There are six areas in the social sector, including education, health, agriculture, water, irrigation, and poverty alleviation in which around 26 new projects will be initiated in Pakistan,” he said.
The ambassador said two model villages would be built in Pakistan under the social sector cooperation of CPEC to uplift the living standard of low-income segments of the society.  He said China was basically an agricultural country and it started its development journey with bringing reforms in the agriculture sector. It would now help Pakistan in revolutionizing its agricultural sector by linking it with the state of the art technology.
With respect to the multi-billion Railway ML1 project, the envoy said as its technical aspects had already been finalized, the project would hit the ground soon. He also invited the neighboring countries to become part of the mega-project as it was not only beneficial to China and Pakistan but also for the whole region. To a question, Jing said 11 out of 22 projects had already been completed while the work on the remaining was going fast. In total $19 billion had been invested by China on all the projects, $13 billion lent as commercial loans and $6 billion as a concessionary loan to be repaid by the Pakistani government in 25-30 years.
To a query regarding the Karachi Circular Railway, the Chinese envoy said the two sides were working on its financial model. Many options of the financial model, including build-operate-transfer (BOT), loaning, and financing from own resources, were under consideration, he added.  Regarding investment in Gilgit-Baltistan, Yao Jing said China was eager to upgrade and develop tourists sites in the area to provide facilities to local as well as foreign tourists.



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