An ambitious “Economic Revival Plan” was announced by the Government of Pakistan on June 20, 2023, during a high-level meeting held in response to the country’s current economic challenges. The Chief of Army Staff, Chief Ministers, Federal and Provincial Ministers, and other senior government officials attended the ceremony, which was presided over by the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The plan calls for utilizing Pakistan’s hidden strengths in major industries including energy, minerals and mining, agriculture and livestock, IT, and defense production through both domestic development and foreign investments. The Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) was established to serve as a “Single Window” interface for prospective investors and to adopt a uniform strategy in order to expedite the development of projects.
By adopting a cooperative and collaborative “whole-of-the-government approach” with representation from all stakeholders, the council will improve and streamline business procedures. It aims to promote quick decision-making, prevent duplication of effort, ensure prompt project implementation, and foster horizontal-vertical synergy between the federation and provinces. The Federal and Provincial Governments’ high-level involvement amply demonstrates the country’s will to revive the economy against all challenges. With the goal of facilitating investment and fostering favourable policy environments, the SIFC will act as a “Single Window” for multi-domain collaboration in “Relevant Fields” with Gulf collaboration Council (GCC) states and other states generally. As a component of the “Economic Revival Plan,” the project will attract investments from GCC nations.
A six-member Apex committee led by the Prime Minister will constitute one of the SIFC’s three tiers. Eight people will make up the executive committee, including two Pakistan Army officials. The implementation committee will also include five representatives of military and civilian leadership. According to reports, co-opted members will comprise the deputy governor, provincial focal points, chairman of the federal board of revenue, secretary of finance, secretary of the board of investments, and secretary of Economic Affairs Division (EAD).
Pakistan’s overall economic ranking has suffered significant setback in past few years. Pakistan’s external debt also increased from $34 billion in 2021 to $38 billion in 2022, and is expected to reach $40 billion in 2023. Pakistan’s economic growth began to slow down in 2019 and fell to its lowest point in 2022. Pakistan is currently experiencing the worst economic crisis in its history, and fast action is required to prevent the country from going into default.
The “Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC)” is projected to generate work chances for Pakistan’s unemployed youth as part of the country’s economic revival process. The SIFC is expected to create 15 to 20 million direct employment possibilities and 75 to 100 million indirect job opportunities over the course of next five years. According to the project’s announcement, it will result in “exports of $70 billion and import replacement of equivalent amount in the following four to five years. Additionally, the plan would result in a $100 billion rise in Pakistan’s FDI.
Keeping in view the critical need of economic revival in the country, Pakistan Army has agreed to provide its expertise to the project’s management, coordination, and success. From now until the project’s launch, it will play a decisive role in determining its success. After a reasonable period, Army would progressively cut back on its direct involvement. Speaking at the meeting in June 2023, the COAS himself reaffirmed Pakistan Army’s unwavering support for government’s Economic Revival Plan.
The rationale behind entire endeavor is to employ an indigenous development model, in which local resources are fully utilized for economic restoration while also luring investment from friendly nations. The economic revival model is set to function through a framework that brings together the Centre and provinces for prompt decision-making and removing any obstacle in the path of investment and business development, all in the name of “one government” and “collective government,” respectively. The project is expected to expand on an even larger scale than CPEC if carried out in true spirit.