Ahsan Iqbal (Pakistan’s Planning, Development & Reform minister) visits Japan

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Prof. Ahsan Iqbal while delivering a key note address at the JETRO Seminar said, in 2014 Pakistan was the only place for the business in South Asia because all the other countries in the region would be busy in elections and transition.

The Minister highlighted the economic priorities of the Sharif government for making the country prosperous and middle income developed country. He shared the five year plan and vision 2025 with the Japanese businessmen. The government wants to establish trade and economic corridors through rail and connectivity to integrate the region of 3 billion people comprising of China, South Asia and Central Asia and to one large market and Pakistan stands in centre of this region, he added. Pakistan has the potential to become the hub of this market. Pakistan also is a country of 180 million people where 60% are young which is the main indicator for a lucrative market.

Ahsan Iqbal Pakistan's Federal Minister for Planning and Development visits Japan

He said Pakistan and Japan have enjoined very close and good political and historical relations. He emphasized the need to translate these relations into trade and economic fields as well, because volume of present trade between two countries does not correspond to the height of these relations.

Highlighting the priorities of the government, he said, energy is the top priority of the government because without energy the goal set up by the present government could not be achieved. In this context, the government has long term and medium term policies. In the long run, hydel power generation has been prioritized where we are seeking Japanese cooperation in building Dasu and Bhasha Dam which will generate 9000 MW of electricity in next ten years. In medium term, he said coal based power generations plants were being encouraged. The government has set up a power park at Gadani near Karachi where six coal based power plants using super critical technology from Japan would be established. These plants would generate 6600 MW of electricity. He invited the Japanese companies to invest in the energy sector which offers very attractive terms of incentives for the investors.

Referring to KCR he said that the Prime Ministers of the two countries during their meeting in New York agreed to move ahead with KCR project. He urged the Japanese government to provide funds for this project. This will create a new avenue of cooperation between the two countries. He said that the development is critical for consolidating the democratic gains in Pakistan where for the first time a smooth transition from one democratically elected government to another democratically government has taken place. A stable democratic Pakistan and Afghanistan were intertwined with the stability of region, he asserted.

Earlier, the Minister had a breakfast meeting with Mr. Hidelo Nakahara, Executive Vice President, Mitsubishi Corporation. He shared the Sharif government for power sector reforms offering one of the highest rate of return on investment. He said that companies like Mitsubishi Corporation who had been in Pakistan for decades need to be take first mover advantage. He also requested to help in reducing the perceptional gap about Pakistan by sharing their experience with other Japanese entrepreneurs.

Prof. Iqbal also visited the National Museum of Emerging Sciences and Innovation called Miraikan. Speaking with the Mamoru Mouri, Chief Executive of the National Museum, he said that the science and technology is the only hope to humanity which can resolve the emerging various problems such as climate change and warming. He said that during the last decade the green revolution has provided food security to the bulging population. He said that today’s world is a globalized one and any incident taking place in any part of the world affects the entire globe and science could solve such challenges. He appreciated the Japanese advancement in science, technology and innovation. He said that present Government attaches top priority to the science education in the country and wants increase enrollment of students in the science majors. Later on, the Minister had round of the Museum where he took keen interest in the cutting edge technology in the field of Robot, Geology and Medical Sciences.

During his meeting with Mr. Akihiko Tanaka, President Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Minister highlighted the new leadership in Pakistan had a strong business and economic background with the democratic dividend of smooth transfer of power. It was important to establish the link between the democracy and development. The new Government had re-introduced the five (5) year plan of priorities coherence to managing Pakistan’s challenges and to enhance reforms was added to planning and development. Pakistan’s program with IMF was proceeding smoothly. The Government’s manifesto was committed to reform the state enterprises improving transmission of energy. The Minister strongly emphasized the need for smooth, small and big businesses. He also stressed that Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) is flagship project as agreed between the Prime Minister of Pakistan and Japan on September 26, 2013 at New York.

Later in the day, the Minster had a meeting with the leading Pakistani businessmen and shared the details of vision 2025. He stressed on the importance of the expatriate community contribution towards development. He requested them to share the proposals for enhancing trade and investment with Japan.

Source: MoFA-Pakistan/Prof Ahsan Iqbal’s Facebook page