ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that the testing times currently being faced by citizens would end soon and the country would emerge stronger from the ongoing crisis.
“There are ups and downs in every struggle and it’s never an easy path,” the prime minister said while addressing the launching ceremony of the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme in Islamabad.
He said the biggest impediment to a prospering new Pakistan was those benefitting from the current system.
The government, Imran added, aimed at turning Pakistan into a welfare state.
As many as 141,000 residential units would be built in the first phase of the housing scheme — one of the federal government’s flagship projects.
The government would construct 25,000 of these units in the federal capital, 110,000 in Balochistan and 6,000 in Azad Kashmir.
A revolving fund of Rs5 billion has been set up to grant microcredit to the poor so that they could buy their own house.
“The government has rolled out the housing project for the salaried class who cannot afford to buy a house,” the prime minister said.
Elaborating on how he realised the need for addressing the housing crisis in the country, Imran recalled the case of a government employee who was on the verge of retirement. The employee’s family could only continue living in their official residence if his son joined the same government department where he worked or he died before retirement. The employee went on to kill himself by jumping off a building.
“That is when I realised how difficult it is for the salaried class to afford their own house,” Imran said.
Earlier, he added, his top priorities were only education, healthcare and employment.
The prime minister also laid out his plan to revolutionise urban planning, replacing Katchi Abadis [squatter settlements] with high-rise buildings.
He said squatter settlements would be replaced with high-rise buildings across the country using the Chinese model of urban development.
“Around 40% of Karachi’s population lives in Katchi Abadis [informal settlements]. Nobody has ever considered what would happen to them,” he noted.
A Chinese company, the prime minister added, had offered to build prefabricated homes in the country with the capacity to construct one floor in just a week.
Imran said the company would be provided with land so that squatter settlements could be replaced with flats.
Besides, he said, commercial buildings would also be constructed in these areas to boost economic activities.
The prime minister pointed out that considering the country’s population, the housing sector was a lucrative market for investors.
Speaking on the occasion earlier, Housing and Works Minister Chaudhry Tariq Bashir Cheema said a number of industries were directly or indirectly linked with the housing sector, and the federal government’s flagship project would not only boost economic activities, but also create jobs for the youth.
Finance Minister Asad Umar said the government had made it easier for the low-income class to avail loans for houses.