The integration of Pakistan’s stock exchanges is a win-win situation for all and it would go a long way towards the sustainable development of capital markets, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said on Thursday.

Addressing the MoU (memorandum of understanding) signing ceremony on integration of the Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad bourses to form a single entity Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSE), Dar said the government was making efforts to improve the outlook of the capital market to attract investments.

The demutualisation and integration of stock exchanges, which could not be achieved in the last 15 years, is being accomplished now, he said. The exercise, however, would be fully beneficial once divestment of shares is completed, he added.

Appreciating the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan’s (SECP) reforms agenda, he asked the apex regulator of the capital markets to implement a strong enforcement and compliance regime and show zero tolerance for any market manipulation, insider trading, misconduct and abuse.

Dar also appreciated SECP’s efforts for getting Pakistan’s index reclassified in upcoming Annual Market Classification Review of MSCI a US-based provider of equity, fixed income, and hedge fund stock market indexes and for achieving 62 per cent compliance with standards of the International Organisation of Securities Commission (IOSCO) assessments.

Touching upon the economic profile of the country, he said the government’s business-friendly reforms, strong macroeconomic indicators, increasing remittances and GDP growth have incentivised the private sector and resulted in increased confidence by international investors, institutions and rating agencies.

The government has achieved majority of the goals of its manifesto regarding economic revival, macroeconomic stability and social protection, he said.

He added that his financial team was trying to raise the country’s foreign exchange reserves to $21 billion by the end of this year.

Speaking on the occasion, SECP Chairman Zafar Hijazi described the formation of Pakistan Stock Exchange as a major milestone in the history of the country’s capital market.

Having a single stock exchange in a country is not a new phenomenon as many countries including Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore have one bourse, he added.