In a big blow to local and small businesses, Prime Minister Imran Khan has decided to allow Chinese companies to set up their regional offices in cash-strapped Pakistan, The Dawn reported.
“Chinese business houses should establish their regional offices in Pakistan,” Khan said on Monday during a meeting with a delegation of 10 leading Chinese firms having business interests in sectors including energy, agriculture, financial sector and communication.
The Prime Minister assured the Chinese investors that his government would give highest priority to provision of every possible facilitation to Chinese investors.
The decision comes even as Pakistan continues to battle with a crippling economy, which has been impacted further due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The country has a large amount of debt piled as a result of taking loans from other nations and international organisations for bailing itself out, but is struggling to pay them off.
Instead of focussing on steps to revive its economy and create more jobs for the locals, the Pakistan government continues to rely on its close ally China for monetary and military support.
The delegation, which participated in the meeting, comprised representatives of Power Construction Corporation of China (Power China), China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), China Gezhouba (Group) Pakistan, China Three Gorges South Asia Investment Company Ltd, China Railway Group Limited, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Machinery Engineering Corporation and China Mobile Pakistan Limited, according to The Dawn.
Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing and Haier CEO Javed Afridi were also present.
Minister for Communication Murad Saeed, Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar, Planning Minister Asad Umar, Finance Adviser Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Commerce Adviser Abdul Razak Dawood, chairman of the Board of Investment Atif R. Bokhari, Chairman of the CPEC Authority retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa also attended the meeting.
Recently, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi paid a visit to China, where he discussed bilateral relations and issues of regional and international interests.
The visit was seen as a desperate attempt by Islamabad to secure Beijing’s support in a bid to prevent itself from being blacklisted in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plenary meet, which is scheduled to be held in October. The meeting would review the steps taken by Pakistan, currently in grey list, in curbing terror funding.