Byline: Khalil Ahmed
Mr Nasim Beg is a financial-services professional who has also worked for several years in the real economy, specifically in the automobile/manufacturing engineering sector. He qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1970 and also holds a bachelor's degree in Commerce from Karachi University. He is the Founder Chief Executive of Arif Habib Consultancy and was the founder Chief Executive (now Vice Chairman) of MCB-Arif Habib Savings and Investments Limited (formerly Arif Habib Investments Limited), a leading Asset Management Company of Pakistan. Mr Nasim Beg serves on the Boards of several Arif Habib Group companies; and apart from being Chairman of the REIT Management Company also chairs the Board of Power Cement Limited.
He has work experience of forty-nine years in manufacturing industry, as well as the financial sector, in domestic as well as international markets. He was part of the task force set up by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) to develop the Voluntary Pension System. He was the founder Chairman of the SECP sponsored Institute of Capital Markets and was a Member of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council.
PAGE: Could you give your views on the prospects of foreign investment in Pakistan?
Nasim Beg: The fundamental reason for a foreigner to invest in another country is that the expected return should justify not taking up other opportunities, within the home country or elsewhere in other jurisdictions. For investing in a country like Pakistan, which has had a history of governance issues, structural economic issues, significantly low savings rate (and consequently low investment in the economy), challenging relations with some of its neighbors and unrest in the vicinity, as well as repeated cycles of going to friendly countries and the IMF for bail-outs, the potential investor has significant issues to consider and the potential return must justify the risks being taken.
While there is no doubt that foreign FMCG companies have benefitted from setting up establishments in Pakistan over the years and we continue to see interest in this area, as well as the pharmaceutical space in the past (they are now under transfer pricing scrutiny), in my opinion, we should not take this type of investment as a feather in our caps. Let me elaborate. We have been running a trade account deficit throughout our history (taking 1971 as the starting point, as prior to that we had East...