The International Finance Corporation (IFC) committed more than $250 million in equity and loans to industrial and financial projects in the financial year ending 30 June. Javed Hamid, Central Asia, Middle East & North Africa manager of the Washington-based World Bank affiliate, says that IFC commitments in the past two years have resulted in private investments worth $1,500 million-2,000 million.

Almost half of last year’s funding went into the cement industry. The local DG Khan Cement Company, Fauji Cement Company and Maple Leaf Cement Company each increased annual capacity by more than 1 million tonnes. The IFC has also been looking to improve environmental standards and, as in the case of the Maple Leaf Cement Company, it has insisted on pollution controls.

The IFC has also sought to encourage industrial investment from the financial sector, creating the first leasing and brokerage companies. Its latest venture is a project to set up a credit rating agency, considered essential for private-sector bond issues.

‘Our exposure next year is difficult to predict. It will depend on whether there is enough private-sector activity. But my sense is there is a lot of activity out there,’ Hamid says.

He predicts IFC attention is likely to shift away from the cement industry to engineering, textiles and packaging. It is also looking at schemes within the power sector, which has been experiencing a boom since the government introduced new incentives for private investors.