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*PM Imran welcomes Facebook’s investments in Pakistan

Prime Minister Imran Khan and Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg held a virtual meeting on Friday to discuss the social media giant’s investments in Pakistan, its support for digital literacy initiatives and its work concerning Covid-19. Imran Khan welcomed Facebook’s investments and programs in Pakistan and urged the company to increase their footprint, Radio Pakistan reported. The Primer also recognised the potential of digital platforms and the role they can play in offering worldwide opportunities to the country’s youth and entrepreneurs. PM Imran Khan also noted how such opportunities can lift people out of poverty, the report said. Imran also raised concerns about the worldwide rise in hate and extremism and acknowledged the immense challenge of fighting hate speech online. Furthermore, the pair also discussed Facebook’s connectivity investments and research grants awarded this year to Pakistan-based academics. Other topics touched upon during the meeting included Facebook’s feature for donating blood, which has seen more than five people sign up since it launched in-country, as well as the company’s support for a polio-free Pakistan.PM Imran Khan and Sandberg also spoke about the latter’s SheMeansBusiness programme, which is offering training to 6,700 women across the country. The last time the pair met was in January during a meeting held at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum. The premier had invited tech firms to invest in the country, and had asked Facebook to consider investments to support Pakistani incubators and assist in digital literacy initiatives. At the time, Sandberg had invited the prime minister to visit Facebook’s headquarters. On the other hand, In Pakistan, statistics showed that in the first two months of the current fiscal year of 2020-21 the Foreign direct investment (FDI) jumped 40 percent to $226.7 million as overseas investors are encouragingly betting on economic recovery from the five-month of downturn. According to the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) FDI climbed from $162 million in the corresponding period of the last fiscal year in the country. It is recorded that the government of Pakistan had made significant progress over the last year in transitioning to a market-determined exchange rate and reversing its large current account deficit, while inflation has declined each month of 2020. US furthermore, which was consistently one of the top five sources of FDI in the country over the past two decades, saw China overtake it during 2019, mainly because of CPEC. Moreover, US investments in Pakistan declined from $386 million during 2018 to just $88 million during 2019. However, over the past year and a half, US corporations have pledged greater than $1.5 billion in direct investments in Pakistan in the fast-moving consumer goods, financial services, franchising, information and communications technology (ICT), thermal and renewable energy, and healthcare services. Furthermore, statistics showed that in August, FDI totaled $112.3 million, depicting 24 percent growth from the same month of FY2020.

Business activity is rebounding after the government lifted coronavirus lockdown in August. Moreover, FDI in financial sector sharply grew to $85.4 million in July-August FY2021. That was compared with $14 million a year earlier. FDI in the electrical machinery rose to $36.5 million from $15 million. The oil and gas exploration sector attracted $34.3 million of FDI during 2-month of the current fiscal year as opposed to $25.1 million in the corresponding period last year. The Experts also reported that Norway in Pakistan was the largest investor followed by Netherlands and Malta. During July-August, investment from Norway grew to $45 million from $0.1 million a year ago. Investment from the Netherlands reached at $39.6 million as against with $3.7 million previous year. In the first two months of the current fiscal year, the country fetched $30 million from Malta. Foreign funds managers invested $59.8 million in the government securities like treasury bills and Pakistan Investment Bonds in July-August against with $71 million a year ago. Statistics released by SBP identified that outflows from the stock market reached at $76.3 million in July-August as against inflow of $36.3 million in the corresponding period of last fiscal year. Total foreign investment declined 21.9 percent to $210.2 million during the period under review.

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