LAHORE: Blaming the previous regimes for the country’s ills, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has claimed that the PML-N government is totally different from past rulers who were ‘more interested’ in getting kickbacks and setting up expensive projects.
“The people need to see the wide difference in the approach between the PML-N government and others and judge for themselves who is really serving them,” Nawaz said on Wednesday while addressing a gathering in Sheikhupura after reviewing the pace of progress of the Bhikki Power Plant.
“Improving the living standard of the people of Pakistan is our mission and we are delivering efficiently by the grace of God,” he added.
The PM said when his government took over in 2013 Pakistan was about to be declared a failed state, with its economy on the verge of collapse. However, he said, in a short span of three years the entire situation has changed.
“The world today has a very positive opinion and is looking forward to see it emerge as a booming economy. It will not only bring a good name to the country, but also benefit its people,” he added.
The PM said when he took oath in 2013 he had a very clear understanding of the challenges ahead and knew that very difficult decisions needed to be taken to reverse the downward slide.
Nawaz claimed he had never lied to the nation and had never ever made false promises.
“And the people of the country are now witnessing that all my promises – of putting an end to load-shedding and completion of road networks – are being fulfilled,” he said.
The PM said the country would have been included in the list of developed countries, had the pace of development and progress initiated by him in the early ‘90s, been allowed to continue unhindered.
“When our [second] government came to an abrupt end in 1999, the country had surplus power, and was making remarkable progress in all areas. However, later none of the governments bothered to fulfill their responsibility to meet power shortages and complete the ongoing projects,” he claimed.
The PM said apart from development projects, his government was also working hard to turn around the national economy. He cited a number of leading international media outlets and publications – the CNN, Economist and Bloomberg – that are acknowledging the ‘marked improvement’ in the economy and the country’s bright future ahead.
The premier said his government intended to add around 10,000MW electricity to the national grid by this year and, as promised, would end load-shedding by the year 2018.
“It is a matter of joy for me to witness a project being carried out on such an exponential pace. Just in 18 months 84% work on Bhikki Power Plant is complete. The project will add 1,180MW to the national grid once it is completed,” he said.
He said transmission lines for the plant have already been laid. “The project will complete in another few months and will produce electricity at Rs6.36 per (KwH),” he added.
He said the government is planning for the times to come, contrary to previous governments.
“Gone are the days when projects were discarded by governments due to political rivalries. Neelum-Jhelum project was one example, the price of which surged from Rs80 billion to Rs250 billion,” he said.
In this regard, he also cited the example of Lahore airport, whose initial design by the PML-N government had been scaled down by the later government in a bid to reduce the airport’s size. “Resultantly, the airport is now choked with only two flight landings at the same time,” he said.
He said the pace of the country’s’ development was now being recognised globally. “Our government has managed to bring down load-shedding from 16-18 hours to 3 to 4 hours. Our next goal is to provide electricity at very affordable and reasonable rates at least to our farmers and industries,” he added.
He said the gas-powered Bhikki power plant has a total capacity of 1,180MW and will be fully operational by the end of 2018. Almost 84% work has been completed and the plant will be producing 716MW initially before the summer this year.
The PM said only a year back, he visited the site of the project that was located among fields.
“However, today a huge infrastructure has cropped up in a short span of time. The pace of progress on the project is very impressive and unbelievable. The project will be known in the times ahead for being cost-effective,” he said.
Governor House meeting
Chairing a meeting at Punjab Governor House earlier, the PM emphasised that the federal and provincial governments should work hand-in-hand to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“The SDGs implementation will have a positive trickledown effect on the common people and improve the livelihood of the citizens. We should coordinate effectively for implementation of the SDG Programme,” he said.
Nawaz lauded the ‘excellent work’ undertaken by Punjab chief minister in leading development initiatives. Efficient progress on projects and their transparency should be appreciated, he said. [WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT BY APP]
Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2017.