US firms keen to increase investment in Pakistan
KARACHI: US firms operating in Pakistan are bullish on the country’s bright economic prospect, expressing their eagerness to make further investment in an annual survey report released on Thursday.
Almost 90 percent of the respondents expressed optimism about the long-term economic and business-operating environment of Pakistan, the annual perception survey 2016/17 conducted by American Business Council of Pakistan (ABC) said.
ABC, formed in 1984, has 65 members related to energy, oil and gas, food and technology sectors and most of them are Fortune 500 companies. They contributed Rs135.50 billion in taxes to national exchequer in 2017 as against Rs119 billion a year ago.
“The members are very optimistic and do see a brighter prosperous Pakistan,” Kamran Nishat, president of the ABC said in a statement. “International perception is important for Pakistan to compete with other countries in the region and attract investment.”
More than 40 percent of the US companies believed that the country’s perception has improved as against six percent in the last year’s survey. The survey allows ABC members to rate their satisfaction on various economic, regulatory and political facts that affect performance and growth of businesses operating in Pakistan.
The survey’s findings showed that 45 percent of the respondents rated business climate as better. Last year, only 17 percent of them had rated it good.
The business climate’s rating is based on implementation and consistency of policies, political situation, law and order, internal and external political climate, government development budget, level-playing field and impact of undocumented economy.
The survey also reckoned with the factors that mostly impact the company’s operations. Around 87 percent of the respondents gave highest ranking to cost of doing business, 84 percent to infrastructure, 80 percent to security challenges and 75 percent to political uncertainty. US firms also identified three factors, which are hampering growth in the country. Total 77 percent of the respondents were concerned over undocumented economy. Around 57 percent were worried over political uncertainty, while 55 percent of the respondents rated weak implementation of policies as unsatisfactory.
ABC attributed a 10 percent decline in annual exports by US companies to Rs11.6 billion to policy inconsistency. The respondents termed performances of Intellectual Property Organisation, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, and Board of Investment as satisfactory.
In contrast, they were dissatisfied with Federal Board of Revenue, Water and Power Development Authority, National Electric Power Regulatory Authority and National Disaster Management Authority.
American Business Council of Pakistan also released a corporate social responsibility (CSR) survey report that said US companies contributed mainly in seven sectors, including education, healthcare, women empowerment, child welfare, disaster relief, people with special needs, and sport development. Sindh benefited the most from the CSR activity with 84 percent of the funds spent by American companies during the last year utilised in the province.