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Pakistan : insurance for businessmen

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Pakistan is offering to insure foreign businessmen to attract overseas investment to a country where thousands have been killed by Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked violence, officials said Wednesday. 

A series of wealthy countries, including Australia, Britain and the United States, advise against non-essential travel to Pakistan and this makes insurance unavailable or very expensive for citizens who wish to visit.

Islamabad says more than 35,000 people have been killed as a result of terrorism in the country since the 9/11 attacks on the United States. But the government hopes that by offering insurance to foreigners invited to Pakistan on business, it can help revive the flagging economy.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the Pakistani central bank’s foreign exchange reserves declined to under $10 billion in October and the deficit, excluding grants, hit 8.5 per cent of gross domestic product last year.

“Any private or public entrepreneur inviting foreign businessmen or investors will now be responsible for providing insurance cover to their guests through the National Insurance Company (NIC),” said commerce ministry spokesman Abdul Kabir Kazi.

“We have launched the scheme immediately and asked the foreign office to dish out information about the scheme to all Pakistani missions abroad to benefit foreign investors and businessmen,” he told AFP.

Nazim Latif, pointman for the scheme, said businessmen can be insured for $200,000, $300,000 or $500,000, depending on their length of stay.  “The premium for the above products will be $75, $150 and $225 respectively if a buyer stays in Pakistan for a week; and $250, $350 and $500 for a stay beyond a month,” he told AFP.

In the event of death, the NIC will pay out the full compensation and in case of injury, $6,000, $7,000 or $8,500 per week for medical treatment.  “Normally, foreigners hesitate to visit Pakistan in business deals because of the law and order situation in the country. We are introducing this scheme as a tool to offer them peace of mind when they come to our country,” Latif said.

Islamabad, Jan 2, 2013 (AFP)