The Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), managed jointly by civil and military authorities, has given its nod to hire consultants. This move aims to ensure an equitable reduction in shareholdings of Pakistan and Canada’s Barrick Gold, with Saudi Arabia receiving an equal stake in the Reko Diq gold and copper mine project.

According to well-informed sources, the apex committee of the SIFC made the formal decision this week to involve another country in the Reko Diq project. This move was reported by The Express Tribune.

Chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the apex committee meeting was graced by Chief of the Army Staff General Asim Munir’s presence.

In the previous month, as reported by The Express Tribune, the SIFC granted preliminary approval to 28 projects valued at billions of dollars. Gulf nations allocated investment for projects like Diamer-Bhasha dam and Chagai district mining in Balochistan.

In his concluding SIFC chairmanship meeting, officials highlighted the PM’s directive for the Ministry of Energy to involve financial advisors. Consequently, their task is to present shares in the Reko Diq mining project to potential investors.

As per the decision, the reduction of shareholdings should be equitable for Pakistan and Barrick Gold.

Barrick Gold owns 50% of Reko Diq mine, while Pakistan and Balochistan share the other 50%.

The prime minister also chose the logo of Rising Pakistan for the SIFC. This reflects the aim of reducing reliance on external loans.

SIFC aims to align federal and provincial efforts, expedite decisions, boost investor confidence, and, consequently, ensure prompt project execution.

The apex committee of SIFC agreed that the Ministry of Energy would recommend a negotiation committee to engage Saudi Arabia as a project partner.

Saudi Arabia Pakistan: The Government Holding Private Limited, Oil and Gas

The federal government will then present these to the Council of Common Interests of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan partnership.

The SIFC has set a December 25, 2023 deadline for the transaction’s conclusion, including signing bidding documents, as per Energy Ministry officials.

However, Barrick Gold CEO Mark Bristow stated that “Barrick won’t dilute equity in the project but welcomes Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) to buy out Pakistan government’s equity.”

SIFC will provide regulatory or legal exemptions for the transaction by December 2023.

The prime minister expressed contentment with SIFC’s progress during the third meeting.

The SIFC lauded the SIFC Secretariat secretary’s efforts for rapid progress.

The PM directed priority sector ministries to finalize financial models for attracting investment.

The SIFC decided Information Ministry and Inter-Services Public Relations will jointly build a positive narrative for SIFC’s work.

PM stressed SIFC’s focus extends beyond Gulf countries, advocating investment via foreign missions.

Recent amendments to the Board of Investment Act and Army’s Act formalize SIFC’s role.

Seven companies transferred assets worth Rs2.3 trillion to the Pakistan Sovereign Wealth Fund, thus supporting various initiatives. Additionally, dividends, which include Riko Diq project shareholders, contribute to funding SIFC projects.

To address foreign investor concerns, SIFC ensures visas within a day through the Interior Ministry’s recommendation. Moreover, the federal and provincial Sindh governments are collaborating on Thar Coal Railway Connectivity, targeting completion within 1.5 years.

SIFC is advancing federal role in minerals despite their traditional provincial domain. Ministry of Energy directed to involve consultants for cohesive minerals sector legal framework.

The decision of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan partnership  entails the federal government primarily providing support and crafting model legislations, rules, and regulations. The federal government will then present these to the Council of Common Interests.

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