Red tape, lack of information irks Saudi investment delegation


— BoI chairman hesitant in assuming office as Saudi team visits seeking investment opportunities

ISLAMABAD: While the Saudi Investment team was looking at investment opportunities in Pakistan, the Board of Investment (BoI) chairman here was hesitant in dealing with the foreign team in the absence of an official notification of his post, sources claim.

Haroon Sharif, who was appointed Chairman BoI on September 13, 2018, has not received the official notification from the government.

According to sources, he faced an interesting situation when the Ministry of Finance (MoF) asked him to deal with the visiting Saudi investment team as he had even not joined the office.

“Even on Tuesday, when the Saudi team was conducting a meeting with Pakistani officials, the BoI chairman did not visit his office for a formal briefing from the officials on matters related to investment.

However on the instruction of the Finance Minister Asad Umar, he attended the meetings as head of BoI,” said sources close to the matter.

According to them, the officials at BoI had returned the notification of its head to the establishment division for want of clear terms of reference (ToRs) of the post. The establishment division was yet to issue the renewed notification.

When the issue came into the knowledge of Finance Minister Asad Umar, he asked Haroon Sharif to deal with the foreign teams as head of BoI and assured the latter that a notification of his office would shortly be issued.

“It seems the bureaucracy is not cooperating with the government, otherwise there would not be such a delay in the notification of the post,” said an analyst.

The new Chairman BoI could not be contacted for comments.

It may be recalled here that the federal cabinet on September 13 had approved the appointment of Haroon Sharif as chairman BoI, a one-window facility under the Prime Minister’s office for the promotion of local and foreign direct investment.

He succeeds Naeem Zamindar who was appointed by the PML-N government in November 2017 from the private sector and resigned in June this year.

BoI is required to assist local and international investors and helps them build joint ventures in the country.

The new chairman is a well-known global expert of economic policy, international development, economic diplomacy and financial markets who worked as the World Bank Group’s Regional Advisor to promote economic cooperation in South and Central Asia, and was involved in the execution of CASA-1000 and Islamabad-Kabul-Dushanbe Expressway.

Haroon is currently a senior fellow of the British Council for promoting regional knowledge and leadership networks between the UK and Pakistan as well as a visiting fellow at the National Defence University (NDU).

He previously headed the Economic Growth Group at UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) for ten years, managing a portfolio of 500 million pounds. He also had a three-year stint as the Executive Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).

Haroon holds postgraduate qualifications in international business and development economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) as well as the University of Hawaii, USA.