Slot for Chairman Board of Investment has remained sloppy during past few years. This is evident from the fact that at least last three chairmen of the lead agency for attracting foreign and local investments departed prematurely, that is without completing their allotted tenure.
While countries like Pakistan are always reliant on foreign investments, and the way such investments play pivotal role for the respective economies, the pandemic has only multipled the need for a stronger and better performing Board of Investment.
Mainly due to the prevailing leadership challenges at BoI, a recent conversation at Corporate Pakistan Group was particularly relevant where the Founder of Corporate Pakistan Group (CPG), Muhammad Azfar Ahsan highlighted the attributes of new Board of Investment Chairman.
Azfar Ahsan said that this time round, an energetic and young person with zeal having well defined goals should be appointed as BOI’s Chairman.
“Irrespective of the gender, the new Chairman should be a livewire who can unveil a well defined execution strategy”, he remarked while conversing with CPG members.
He further elaborated that the ‘HOW’ of getting things done is more important as everyone knows the destination but not many of us would know the path to reach this destination.
Talking about the shift in Pakistan’s foreign relations, he said that new Chairman should strive to expand the portfolio of countries and bring Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries.
“If Government to Government relations hit certain bottlenecks, private groups should be approached and matchmaking services be arranged”, Azfer opined.
Besides increasing a diverse base of countries we should also increase sectors that attract investments such as power generation, oil & gas exploration, IT and ITEs, textiles, retail, transport, food, pharmaceuticals & vaccine manufacturing, financial services, tourism, and agriculture.
A crucial responsibility of BOI is also to facilitate domestic investment because FDI is directly linked with the investment from local entities.
A drawback for Pakistan is that it is seeking FMCG type of FDI although our target should be to seek export oriented FDI with special focus on Agriculture sector.
When seeking FDI, BOI needs to be focused. They should target individual sectors instead of following the age old method of having roundtable presentations.
BOI embarked on deregulation and is also creating single window solutions for businesses. These are steps in the right direction and in coming days, more unique initiatives need to be incorporated to enhance viability of this institution.
“For all this the new Chairman should have whole hearted support by all concerned government departments”, said Mr. Azfar.
“The appropriate person for this assignment in my view has to be a person with a big heart and proven track record who possess sound knowledge and can deliver in unfavorable circumstances”, Azfar added.
According to the founder of CPG, the upcoming Chairman of BoI should not blame factors such as restrictive environment and proverbial bureaucratic delays and should possess enough wisdom, experience, and grit to work through this maze to achieve the desired results.
“We need someone who can almost singlehandedly bring foreign investment and set a benchmark for his successors”, he remarked.
Azfar Ahsan concluded by saying that to achieve meaningful change, we need out of box thinking because following the same old tried and tested strategies will never bring any meaningful change in our investment climate. He said for fresh ideas and innovative strategies the new chairman should also consider outside help and engage companies that can suggest new and innovative ways to attract FDI.
In case if you are wondering, CPG or Corporate Pakistan Group represents the elite of Pakistan’s national intelligentsia including corporate and business leaders, ministers, senators, governors, federal secretaries, politicians, distinguished academicians, energy experts, tech entrepreneurs, defence personnel, police officers, foreign policy experts, media practitioners, and movers and shakers of the civil society.