$10bn Saudi investment on the cards, says PM

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$10bn Saudi investment on the cards, says PM

ISLAMABAD: According to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud will soon visit Pakistan and make an announcement regarding a $10 billion investment for the establishment of an oil refinery there.

The prime minister said the projects offered by Saudi Arabia had been ignored and put in the doldrums by the previous government, but he revived them within 48 hours. He was criticising the previous Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government for failing to take advantage of an opportunity given by the Saudi government to launch several projects in the country through grant, soft loans, and investment.

Speaking at the passing-out parade of the Specialized Training Programme (STP) batch of the National Police Academy, Prime Minister Sharif said, “Saudi Crown Prime Mohammad bin Salman will come to Pakistan soon for $9 to $10 billion investment in oil refinery” (NPA).

The crown price, according to him, indicated a willingness to support development initiatives in Pakistan. He continued, “He (the crown prince) was willing to do anything for [the advancement of] the people of Pakistan. The premier made his comments a few days after returning from a two-day visit to the kingdom, during which time the two leaders decided to strengthen their friendship and bilateral ties.

A team from the Saudi Development Fund (SDF) visited Pakistan earlier this year. They complained about delays in Pakistani projects brought on by the previous administration during a meeting with me, he said.

He claimed that one of the projects involved the establishment of a hospital with funding from Saudi Arabia, but even that funding was turned down by the PTI administration out of concern for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

“The hospital was to be finished within six months, and some more such projects were to be executed on soft loans but they were kept in cupboards,” he said, adding that he asked the SDF team to stay in Pakistan for an additional two days and that he received approval for the stalled projects in less than 48 hours.

It was extremely embarrassing, I assure you. However, I requested more time, and within 48 hours I received approvals for all the projects that were delayed.

According to Mr. Sharif, Prince Salman received an apology from him during their meeting for the projects’ delayed execution. He cited Prince Salman as saying that the populations of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan had close ties. He said, “We are like one big family and I’m ready to do anything. The Saudi prince also instructed us to work on projects and to facilitate them without any hesitation, according to PM Sharif, who added that one of the projects was a $10 billion oil refinery.

The prime minister acknowledged that Pakistan’s ties with friendly nations had deteriorated in recent years and pledged to go above and beyond to repair them. He said, “I want all of you to welcome him warmly because he comes from a brotherly country,” when Prince Salman arrived in Pakistan.

He continued by saying he would soon be in China. China has always supported Pakistan and has been a reliable friend to us.

There is no need to “ruin ties with the US,” Prime Minister Shehbaz added briefly, assuring listeners that efforts are being made by the government to repair this relationship as well.

The prime minister thanked the police for their sacrifices in defending the nation against crime and terrorism at the outset of his speech and urged them to set the bar high for other provinces with their counter-terrorism operations.

Regarding flood survivors, PM Sharif stated that he was actively working to provide them with relief and that arrangements were being made to set aside hundreds of billions of rupees to pay for rehabilitation through international channels.

Later, while Ahmed Jawad, the PM’s point person, resigned and left politics, Prime Minister Sharif appointed Tariq Mahmood Pasha as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Revenue, with the status of a minister of state.

The most recent addition brings the total number of federal cabinet members to 75, including 30 SAPMs.