Foreign investors have continued to express confidence in the security environment in Pakistan except for some street crimes in Karachi, according to the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) Security Survey 2021.

OICCI, the collective body of top 200 foreign investors in Pakistan, released the results of its latest Annual Security Survey 2021, covering feedback on the security environment in the commercial centres of Pakistan.

The survey was conducted from May 21 to June 21. About two-thirds of OICCI members have their head offices in Karachi with operations all over the country.

Compared to the security situation in mid-2020, the overall security environment, according to the latest survey, has further improved, especially in Lahore – according to 61% of the respondents, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (59%), rest of Punjab (53%), and Karachi (51%).

However, some of the members expressed concern over the growing street crimes, especially in Karachi.

“It is very heartening to see that on-ground improvements are being recognised by others abroad as it is very important to create a positive image of the country in the eyes of foreign investors,” said Topline Securities’ economist Atif Zafar while talking to The Express Tribune.

“We have seen in the past that the poor law and order situation not just resulted in foreign capital outflows, but also affected our exports,” he added.

“The positive perception of the security environment by the leading foreign investors operating in the country is a matter of great satisfaction and also conveys a positive message to the potential investors,” said OICCI President Irfan Siddiqui while commenting on the survey findings.

The foreign investors appreciated the continuing focus of law enforcement agencies (LEAs) on improving the security environment, which was one of the key factors for attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country.

“Security remains one of the top three concerns for 62% of the respondents, a marginal improvement over 70% respondents in the 2020 survey,” he added.

Over two-thirds of the more than 200 members responded to the OICCI Security Survey 2021 and the respondents included CEOs and senior management of the OICCI member organisations.

It is highly encouraging that despite Covid-related travel restrictions since March 2020, visits of foreign nationals for businesses of OICCI members continued last year, but at a lower frequency.

Foreign business visitors were mainly from China, the UK, USA, Germany, Japan, the UAE (where regional headquarters of several member companies are located) as well as other European and Asian countries.

“It is good news; let’s hope that this improved security perception translates into a significant increase in investment in Pakistan,” remarked Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives Pakistan Executive Director Mukhtar Ahmad Ali.

In terms of serious crimes, 87% of respondents pointed to either a decrease compared to the previous year or called it not an issue in Lahore. Meanwhile, 75% of respondents believed there was either a decrease over last year or it was not an issue in Karachi, according to the survey.

Similarly, 89%, 75% and 73% of respondents believed there was either a decrease over last year or it was not an issue in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Quetta and the rest of Balochistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2021.

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