KARACHI: In a positive development, the foreign investors’ confidence in Pakistan’s security situation has further improved, along with Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) central management’s visits to the country which has increased over 65%.
The OICCI’s annual security survey, conducted in June 2019, shows that the perception of foreign investors – OICCI members – about the country’s security environment has further improved significantly compared to the already improved security situation recorded in the 2018 survey, according to a statement issued by the OICCI.
“The annual security survey is one of the critical annual assessments of operating conditions in Pakistan and is taken very seriously by potential foreign investors, relevant diplomats and other stakeholders interested in doing business in Pakistan,” said OICCI President Shazia Syed.
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While overall responses clearly conveyed continued improvement in the general security environment, the increase in street crimes, an attack on Chinese Consulate in Karachi, sporadic religious or communal attacks in Balochistan and some consequences of the recent spat between India and Pakistan were also reflected in the survey, she said.
The 2019 survey findings reaffirm that all over the country security environment has improved as compared to the already improved situation at the time of 2018 survey. The improvement in security environment ranges from 40% in Balochistan to over 70% in Karachi and Lahore, the two cities where most of the head offices of OICCI members are located.
“The visibly improved security situation has boosted confidence of foreign investors,” said the OICCI president.
The confidence is reflected in over 65% increase in visits to Pakistan by OICCI members’ headquarters and regional management. Furthermore, most of the board of directors and management review meetings are now taking place in the country.
“The increase in visits is a vote of confidence in the improved security environment,” she said, adding the increase was witnessed even though there were also some postponements of visits mainly due to the closure of airspace after India-Pakistan air encounters in March 2019.
This is a strong indicator that Pakistan as a destination for investors has improved significantly with less concern over the overall security situation. This improved security environment has resulted in many foreign business visitors and trade delegations being granted travel permissions for their visits to Pakistan from their respective embassies and travel security agencies.
“The 2019 security survey once again depicts that the security environment in Pakistan, for all key stakeholders, has substantially improved not only for the survey participants, but also for their customers, suppliers and employees,” said Syed.
Overall, the OICCI survey feedback points to a clear appreciation by the foreign investors of the various initiatives taken by the government and security agencies in proactively tackling the security, law and order challenges, which had serious repercussions for the image of the country as a safe destination for foreign direct investment (FDI).
The 2019 security survey indicates massive reduction in serious crimes like abductions/hostage-taking and extortion demands, led by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) where 88% of respondents have reported a decrease over last year, followed by Lahore with 87% and the rest of Punjab/Karachi with 83%.
Even in Quetta and the rest of Balochistan, serious crimes are reported to be down by over 60% as compared to last year.
With respect to petty crimes ie mobile, cash snatching and car stealing, the survey results indicate a downward trend including a decrease of 92% in Islamabad, closely followed by 87% in Lahore, 83% in Karachi, 82% in Peshawar and 66% in Quetta.
More than 300 foreign visitors from the OICCI members’ headquarters and regional offices came to Pakistan during the year. The highest number came from European countries, followed by China, the UK, the UAE, USA and rest of Asia.
According to the OICCI, its 190 members contribute about a third of Pakistan’s total tax collection, invested $2.7 billion last year and employed about one million people, besides contributing significantly to socio-economic development of the community through their CSR initiatives.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2019.