LAHORE: Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Wednesday said that Pakistan’s economic condition today was far better than 2013.
Addressing a ceremony at the Export Trophy Award 2016 under the aegis of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Sharif said that economic indicators were encouraging. He said that foreign exchange reserves had reached $23 billion for the first time in Pakistan’s history. He said that Pakistan was facing challenges of extremism and energy shortage, but Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his team put it on the road to progress.
The chief minister said, “We have to move forward to achieve a commendable place for the country in the comity of nations.” He said that a lot of time had been wasted and there was a need to learn from the mistakes. He said that those staging sit-ins and engaged in politics of agitation had wasted eight months of the nation. He said that elements staging sit-ins were on the streets again. He said that people had not supported the politics of agitation in the past and they would not support it in the future. He said people were aware that those engaged in politics of agitation were against development and their politics was harmful for the country.
The chief minister said the government respected Lahore High Court’s verdict on the Orange Line Metro Train Project. He also said, however, that the Punjab government would appeal the verdict in the Supreme Court.
He said that new jobs could be created by strengthening the economy and increasing exports. He called upon exporters to increase exports and strengthen the national development process. He distributed trophies among exporters and paid tribute to them for their role in the national economic development. He praised exporters for overcoming the challenges. He praised the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry for boosting exports.
The chief minister said that development projects were being completed speedily under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said the 1,320-megawatt Sahiwal Coal Power Plant would be completed in 23 months. He said that a meeting presided over by the prime minister had decided to set up 3,600-megawatt gas-based power projects in the Punjab. He said the provincial government was completing a 1,200-megawatt power project from its own resources. He said that American and Chinese companies that set up Guddu Power Plant six years ago were now working on the CPEC projects. At that time, he said, it cost $900,000 per megawatt. He said that now 3,600-megawatt projects were being set up in the province at the cost of $450,000 per megawatt.
Punjab Investment Board Chairman Muzaffar Khawaja said the board was committed to increasing exports, creating new jobs and attracting investment to the province. Finance Minister Ayesha Ghaus Pasha said that economic stability could not be achieved without increasing exports. She said the provincial government and the Finance Department would provide all facilities to exporters.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2016.