SIFC: What is it? Pragmatism?

By ONLOOKER: On January 3rd (tomorrow), a meeting of the Apex Committee of SIFC has been called. It will be chaired by the Caretaker Prime Minister until elections are held (if and when) and power transferred to an elected political government. The caretaker chief Ministers (CMs) of all provinces will also attend, sources say. In this meeting, different Ministries will give presentations on the progress of KPIs assigned to them in previous meetings. CMs will also give briefings to the Apex committee. Sources have confided that this meeting is “very crucial” as far as the progress on KPIs executed by all different ministries and provinces –for “ensuring enabling environment for the SIFC”. On the performance of different ministries, there will be likely reshuffle, sources say.

The Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir, the source says, on a recent occasion had reportedly criticized Social Media for “spreading despondency, and as if no state exists”. The countermeasures taken by concerned authorities will also come under strict scrutiny, sources say.

What is “SIFC” (Special Investment Facilitation Center)? The Center is focused on ‘Investments’ rather than ‘loans/grants’…Its focus is predicated on finances as: Equity 50% GCC Countries (investment), and 50% Pakistan (Physical/HR). Sectors SIFC appears to have identified: Defense; Minerals; Agriculture; IT; Energy.

Dollars & Cents Goal: Investment Scope: $50-75 bn; Potential Sources
-Pak-KSA Sovereign Investment Fund: $25 bn extendable to $50 bn
-Pak-UAE Investment Fund: $25 bn

Says Irshad Salim of, “SIFC euphemistically is a double-barreled gun, and in my opinion, it is meant to navigate through head winds and benefit from tail winds”. ‘Pragmatism’ he says. “It doesn’t matter whether the cat is black or white. As long as the cat takes care of the mice, it’s a good cat!”

A Recent Editorial of Interest in Pakistan Observer on the SIFC:

Excerpt: …”Record inflation, rampant smuggling, inefficiency of the bureaucratic machinery, inability of the judiciary to deliver and weak governance (as evident from inability of the system to check smuggling of goods and dollars as well as profiteering) are transmitting wrong signals to the people…”
It is because of the prevailing despondency that thousands of people are leaving the country every month and initiation of projects under the SIFC umbrella might help reverse the trend…”

Will “projects under SIFC umbrella reverse the migration trend”? “They are trying their best…but it will depend on what the general perception is about state of affairs… it’s not a supply side issue, but has a demand dynamic,” says a finance professional.

A veteran observer tells on migration matter: “They are leaving not only for jobs; you know that? It’s more than that –security; HR; right to speak/express their thoughts/think differently; disagree with others; etc. Otherwise these (SIFC) projects should have made a huge difference. But the fundamental, very basic question, which will continue to bother everyone will always be the same: why do they (politicos) drag the army in everything? It was started by Nawaz Sharif: bhul safari; electricity meter checking; ghost school checking, etc. why?”

WHY did the IMF criticize SIFC in November last year?

Comments shared with by an observer:

A WhatsApp Forum member responded: “SIFC might never be able to bring in investment under SARKARI team, let alone FAUJIS. It is a superfluous setup with non professionals in the driving seat. All over the world, Investment is done, to or from, by private businessmen and companies; not governments. You name any top company, it’s private. Even a look on in Pakistan’s own recent history on investment during last three decades have been led by private companies and ventures with no SARKARI involvement. Ironically, whenever and wherever SARKAR tried to intrude, the investor ran away or the company collapsed. I may be wrong, but then no country creates such SIFC type thing that too FAUJI led. Ask any businessman and he would agree. As probably, yesterday Dawn newspaper also published an editorial saying TILL THIS ELITE CAPTURE OF GOVERNMENT POLICY IS NOT STOPPED, NOTHING WILL CHANGE IN PAKISTAN. Btw there is already a military setup in Pakistan with the name DEPO (Defense Export Promotion Organization) working for now around quarter a century. Just ask them how much INVESTMENT they have brought in “to & from Pakistan”? It’s pure Armed Forces oriented thing whereas SIFC we are talking more than that… My two cents: Get all extra fat out and bring in pure professional civil businessmen and see the results.”