The Federal Minister for Finance Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Thursday, said that foreign exchange reserves would rise to $ 21 billion by the end of this calendar year.

He said that Pakistan’s macroeconomic indicators had become stable and Pakistan was becoming economically stable and prosperous country While addressing the MoU signing ceremony on integration of Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE), Lahore Stock Exchange (LSE) and Islamabad Stock Exchange (ISE), Finance Minister said that Pakistan would become an investment hub after the establishment of Pakistan Stock Exchange.

He said that the government, in collaboration with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), is endeavoring to make Pakistan’s financial and capital market one of the best in the world.

He reiterated the government’s commitment to the creation of a strong, vibrant and competitive financial and capital market that can prove as a basic building block for a strong economy. He expressed his resolve to improve the outlook of Pakistan’s capital market to attract investment and improve the standard of living of the common man. Terming the scheme of integration among stock exchanges a landmark achievement, Senator Ishaq Dar said that formation of Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSE) is a win-win for all and it will go a long way towards sustainable development of our capital markets, in the best interest of all stakeholders and Pakistan.

Finance Minister said that it is a satisfying day for him that the task of demutualization and integration of stock exchanges that could not be achieved in last 15 years was being accomplished now. He said that the full benefits of this exercise require completing the process of divestment of shares. He assured full support of the government to achieve divestment of PSE shares.

Among other areas, Ishaq Dar said, the government is committed to promoting standards of excellence for the corporate sector and capital market. While appreciating the robust reforms agenda followed by the SECP, the Finance Minister asked SECP to implement a strong enforcement and compliance regime and show zero tolerance for any market manipulation, inside trading, misconduct and abuse.

The efforts of the government and the regulators are bearing fruit and Pakistan has started doing really well, he added. PSE is going to be play major role in attracting foreign investment, Ishaq Dar anticipated. He said that his financial team would work hard to raise Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves to the mark of US $21 billion by end of calendar year 2015.

Ishaq Dar also appreciated SECP’s efforts for getting Pakistan’s Index reclassified in upcoming Annual Market Classification Review of MSCI. He expected that Pakistan’s capital market would soon be reclassified a MSCI emerging market. He also acknowledged the SECP for achieving 62% compliance with standards of the International Organization of Securities Commission (IOSCO) assessments.

The Minister briefly touched on economic profile of the country. He said the government’s business friendly reforms and strong macro-economic indicators had resulted in increased confidence of investors, institutions and rating agencies. He added that PML-N government under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has achieved most of the goals of its manifesto pertaining to economic revival, macro-economic stability and social protection.

Speaking on the occasion, the SECP Chairman, Mr Zafar Hijazi said the formation of Pakistan Stock Exchange is a major milestone in the history of Pakistan’s capital market that will lead to achieving government’s vision of a fair, efficient and transparent market. He said that Pakistan’s capital market has enough potential to become a regional capital hub and the SECP aimed to build Pakistan as one of the best capital markets in the Asian region.

Chairman Hijazi said that the PSE would be in better position to invite reputed stock exchanges from all over the word to become its strategic partner. The SECP Chairman further said the having a single stock exchange in a country in not an astonishing phenomenon as many countries including Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore have one stock exchange.

The Chairman, Demutualization Committee ISE, Mukhtar Ahmed Jaffery, Chairman Demutualization Committee LSE Yasser Mahmood and Chairman Demutualization Committee KSE Haji Usman Ghani signed the MoU to integrate the three stock exchanges to create the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSE).

The Presidents of the NBP and ZTBL, Deputy Governor, SBP, Managing Directors of KSE, LSE, ISE and CDC, NCCP, Chairman CCP, NIT and PMEX, President Mutual Funds Association of Pakistan, members of the SECP Policy Board and business leaders attended the event.