ISLAMABAD:

Riyadh and Islamabad have reached an agreement to surge the Saudi deposits in the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) by $2 billion – increasing them from $3 billion to $5 billion.

Saudi Arabia Holding Company CEO Mohammad AlQahtani in a social media post shared that following the visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to Saudi Arabia and his meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the two countries have agreed to step up the implementation of the $5 billion “massive” plan.

The pact was made between PM Shehbaz and the Saudi crown prince in Makkah on Monday during the premier’s three-day visit to seek economic support from the Kingdom.

The two leaders discussed ways for strengthening bilateral ties with special focus on Kingdom’s supportive role in Pakistan’s economy and the mutual desire to strengthen trade and investment ties, according to a joint communique issued simultaneously from Islamabad and Riyadh at the end of the meeting.

“Both parties affirmed their commitment to expediting the first wave of investment package worth $5 billion, which was discussed previously,” it added.

AlQahtani explained that the agreements included injecting investments into a new oil refinery and copper mines.

The Saudi Arabia Holding Company CEO elaborated that these steps were part of a broader agreement reached earlier, where Riyadh was in talks to invest $21 billion in Islamabad.

He added that they included the setting up of an oil refinery at cost of $14 billion and a copper mine at a sum of $7 billion.

Last year, Saudi Arabia had pledged to invest $25 billion in Pakistan within the next five years under the Spe¬cial Investment Facilita¬tion Council (SIFC), which was seeking investments in the energy, information technology, minerals, defence, and agricultural sectors from the Gulf countries.

The Saudis are expected to invest $5 billion in the minerals sector, particularly in the Reko Diq Copper-Gold Project located in the Chaghi district of Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

AlQahtani further wrote that these investments were seen as a positive step towards strengthening economic relations between Islamabad and Riyadh, supporting Pakistan’s economy as well as creating new job opportunities.

He added that PM Shehbaz had described this agreement as ‘historic” and a “milestone” in the relationship between the two countries.

“The investments come at a time when Pakistan is facing a severe economic crisis, with high inflation rates and a shortage of foreign currency. Pakistan hopes that these investments will help improve its economy and create new job opportunities. Pakistan has a strong and reliable ally in Saudi Arabia, which has been providing extensive financial and political support for a long time,” he wrote.



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