Pakistan seeks investment to build eight million houses

Gulf News | 13 May 2009

By Ashfaq Ahmed, Chief Reporter

Dubai: Pakistan is seeking investment to build eight million low cost houses all over the country as part of its plan to boost economic activity and attract foreign investment, said a top official.

“We are offering a huge investment opportunity to foreign investors including Pakistanis and no-Pakistanis to come to Pakistan,” added Senator Waqar Ahmad Khan, Investment Minister of Pakistan while addressing a press conference in Dubai on Wednesday.

He said that the government would provide free land and the investors would be required to build houses while the profit would be shared. Investors can make up to 33 per cent profit in this project.

“We have earmarked 50,000 acres of land across the country to build these houses and expect some US$15 billion investment in this project,” Khan said.

Average cost of a house will be around US$15000 and the government would also provide mortgage to buyers. The project would be carried out under the Pakistan Housing Authority while the Ministry of Investment will facilitate the investors.

The Minister is on its first official tour to the UAE and is accompanied by a high profile delegation from different ministries looking for investments in the fields of housing, oil and gas, railways, agriculture, food and infrastructure development.

“We are starting from our brotherly country UAE and then will go to other places,” he told reporters.

Prime Minister of Pakistan last year announced to build one million low cost houses.

“We have expanded the scope of housing projects and are now inviting investors to avail themselves of this great opportunity,” he said.

Khan said that he had very successful meetings with leading investment and property groups in the UAE and very soon their teams would be visiting Pakistan to finalise details of the projects they are intending to invest in.

The Minister also invited investment in the agriculture sector.

“We have finalised plans for the corporate farming project and we have the capabilities to meet the food requirements of the GCC countries. A lot of interest has been shown by the GCC countries in the agriculture sector,” he said.

He said that preference would be given to those who would introduce innovative technologies to enhance the yield.

“They will be able to export 50 per cent of the crop while the 50 per cent would be sold in Pakistan,” he said, adding that 6.65 million acres of land for agriculture is available in Pakistan.

He especially asked the Pakistan businessmen in the UAE, who he said has the third largest investment here, to also come to their country to bring it out of economic crisis.

Earlier, Pakistani businessmen during their meeting with the Minister at the Pakistan Business Council (PBC) function in Dubai, raised concerns regarding safety and security of their investment, shortage of electricity and red tap.

“The investors here have some concerns about the law and order situation and security of their investment and the issue needs attention,” said Sikandar Sultan Khaja, Chairman of the PBC.

The Minister said that his Ministry has especially been created to protect investment and facilitate investors under one window operation.

“We are also in the process of giving legislative cover to investors and there is also a proposal to have a special anti-terrorism force of at least 100,000 personnel in each province to maintain law and order and to protect investors and businessmen,” he added.

Khursheed Ahmd Juneejo, Ambassador of Pakistan quipped that the conflict is in just six districts out of 106 districts of Pakistan.

“The government has its writ all over the country and there is business as usual. The situation in Swat is also under control,” he added.

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