PM seeks business community’s advice to end economic woes

Azeem Samar
Saturday, May 21, 2022

KARACHI: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif asked Friday the business community to give proposals to steer the country out of economic crisis. He also announced ending 17 per cent tax on solar power products imposed by the past government.

He made the announcement while speaking at a ceremony organised by the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) here at the Chief Minister’s House.

Shehbaz said that the past government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had failed to initiate a single development project and had not given relief of a single rupee to the masses during its tenure lasting for three-and-a-half years. The country had been ruined by the past ruler, who had now started distributing certificates to declare who was a loyal citizen and who was a traitor. He said the past government, sensing that its days were numbered owing to the no-confidence motion, had made a move and stopped further increase in the prices of petroleum products.

He said the ‘favourite ruler’ and ‘favourite government’ of the past had been given an unprecedented support by the influential institutions in the country, which had never been given in the past 75-year history of the country. “Had just 30 per cent of the support, which was available to the favourite, been given to any of our past governments, there would have been a rocket-like flight of Pakistan,” he said.

Shehbaz Sharif said the country had been passing through a challenging phase in political and economic terms owing to the ill-advised policies of the past government.He said that he was aware of the problems of the poor in the country and had imposed a ban on the import of luxury items to save four billion dollars annually. He said that the conversion rate of the dollar was Rs189 the day he took oath as the new premier of the country but the same day dollar value had decreased by Rs08 and also trading activity picked up in the Stock Exchange. He maintained that he had not come into power for political point-scoring.

He said the previous government of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) had accelerated the pace of work to complete the CPEC and power plants had been established at a number of locations in the country to end the issue of power loadshedding. He said that their pace to set up new and inexpensive power plants in the country had been unmatched. The country needed hydro and wind power to overcome the energy crisis. He told the audience that the issue of power loadshedding had resurfaced due to corruption and incompetence of the past government. He advised the Sindh government to consult its allied political parties and business community on new development projects in the province.

He said that a seawater desalination plant should be established on Karachi’s coastline to resolve the water crisis of the city while utilising the offer announced by the government of Saudi Arabia to invest one billion dollars in Pakistan.

He said that his government had been left with no option but to impose a ban on the import of luxury and non-essential items in view of the sufferings of common people. The import of such items would have continued had the government decided to increase the duty on them even by 200 per cent.

The PM said that the steps of the new government would ensure stability in the country and industrialists and traders had to play their due role in this regard to change the country’s destiny.

Meanwhile, the prime minister launched the MILGEM Class Corvette Badar at the Karachi Shipyard and Works. The corvette is equipped with state-of-the-art weapons and sensors, including surface-to-surface, surface-to-air missiles and anti-submarine weapons, which would significantly boost the Pakistan Navy’s defensive and offensive capabilities.

At the corvette launching ceremony, Shehabz said it was a historic occasion as the Ministry of Defence Production, Pakistan Navy, Karachi Shipyard and M/s ASFAT of Turkey had jointly supported the construction of this state-of-the-art platform. He appreciated the KS&EW performance and reiterated that indigenisation was on the forefront of “our national policy and it is very encouraging to see modern warships being built in Pakistan”. He said the MILGEM project would enable acquisition of much-needed design and construction capabilities for future needs and export potential.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in his message on the occasion, felicitated timely completion of the Pakistan-Turkey MILGEM project despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi, in his address, underscored that Pakistan’s geographical position and current geostrategic environment demand building of a strong navy to defend the maritime interests.