ISLAMABAD, FEB 8 (DNA) – Sardar Masood Khan, President, Azad Jammu and Kashmir said that AJK possessed huge investment potential in almost every sector of economy and invited Pakistani investors to tap all investment opportunities in AJK for earning lucrative results.
He said that the US$5 billion AJK economy has the potential to grow into US$ 20-30 billion economy within 10 years, which showed its attractiveness for investors. He said that AJK has the potential to become an engine of growth for Pakistan. He said that 3 tourism corridors have been identified under CPEC in AJK to improve tourism infrastructure.
He said that before Covid-19 pandemic, 1.5 million tourists visited AJK as it has pristine terrain with mesmerizing spots for tourists and the government was focusing on modernizing tourism infrastructure to attract more tourists.
He expressed these views while addressing the business community at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI). Representatives of Mirpur, Jhelum, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Bhawalpur and Karachi Chambers of Commerce & Industry also joined the session through a zoom meeting.
Sardar Masood Khan said that 3 hydropower projects under CPEC including 720MW Karot, 1120 MW Kohala, 600 MW Azad Pattan and one SEZ in Mirpur were under construction in AJK.
He said that AJK has the world’s finest precious stones while there was great potential for investment in industry, agriculture, hospitality and other sectors and urged that Pakistani investors should capitalize on them.
He announced that he would host a delegation of Pakistani business community led by Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan President ICCI in AJK to show them business and investment potential in AJK.
He also paid tributes to Sardar Muhammad Ilyas Khan, Chairman, Sardar Group of Companies and father of Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan for his entrepreneurial achievements as he has made huge investments in Pakistan and AJK providing jobs to several thousand people and was making significant contribution to tax revenue of the country.
Speaking at the occasion, Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) said that immense tourism potential in AJK still remained untapped and the government should focus on developing modern tourism infrastructure to attract more tourists.
He said that promoting tourism in AJK would contribute effectively towards strengthening the economy as it would attract investment, create new jobs, reduce unemployment and generate tax revenue.
He said that tourism contributed £106 billion to the GDP of British economy besides supporting 2.6 million jobs. Similarly, tourism was contributing 11.5 percent to the GDP of Dubai capturing direct international tourism spending of $27.9 billion, which showed that Pakistan and AJK could achieve tremendous benefits by promoting tourism.
He emphasized that the federal and AJK governments should consider announcing special incentives including 5 to 10-year tax holidays and abolition of duties on import of machinery and equipment for AJK to attract maximum local and foreign investors.
He urged that the AJK government should provide land on lease for 55-90 years to investors to give them confidence in making investment. He said that the government should take measures to attract major local and international brands to AJK, establish trainings institutes to utilize the abundant human resource of the region for economic development and reopen airports in Rawalakot and Muzaffarabad by further upgrading them that would facilitate the local and international tourists in visiting AJK.
Mian Akram Farid Chairman Founder Group said that sales tax exemption has been withdrawn in AJK and this decision should be revised to facilitate the businessmen in AJK. He said that tax on check posts from loaded vehicles should also be withdrawn and consistent policies should be made for investors.
Zafar Bakhtawari Convener ICCI Kashmir Cause Committee and Chairman D.Watson Group said that major cities of AJK should be connected with air links and a Kashmir Liaison Committee comprising the business community of Pakistan should be formed to tap investment potential in AJK. He announced that D.Watson would open its branches in Muzaffarabad and Mirpur soon. The representatives of other Chambers of Commerce & Industry also shared ideas for creating a conducive environment for business and investment in AJK.=DNA