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March 8, 2013

Minimum wages Rs15,000, end to outages in three years

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RR
Rohama Riaz
March 8, 2013

LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-N leadership unveiled its election manifesto-2013 before the media here on Thursday. The manifesto pledged to end loadshedding in three years, enhance minimum wages to Rs15,000 per month, create one million jobs for youth under the National Youth Policy, appoint chiefs of the armed services on the basis of seniority and merit, hold local government polls within six months of the general elections and create separate provinces of Hazara, Janoobi Punjab and Bahawalpur.
PML-N President Nawaz Sharif unveiled the party manifesto for the upcoming polls during a press briefing at Model Town in the presence of key party leaders. He claimed that the PML-N had always fulfilled its promises made to the masses. He said the people gave them 10 years mandate during 1990 and 1997, but they were not allowed to complete even five years in total during both stints and their tenure was full of conspiracies and internal crises. Nevertheless, he claimed that despite the challenging situation they undertook initiatives and introduced economic reforms which were still role models for neighbouring countries.
Nawaz said if given a chance to come to power after the general elections, his party would pursue such revolutionary policies which would eliminate terrorism, promote brotherhood and tranquillity in the country.
Regarding appointments of army chiefs, Nawaz said he would not repeat mistakes of the past and would appoint army chiefs on the basis of seniority and merit. He claimed that seniority and merit would only be reviewed in case of glaring misconduct or delinquency. He claimed that it was the right of parliament to discuss and pass the entire budget including the defence budget.
About the gas pipeline project, he claimed that he did not believe in pro-American or anti-American policies but the foreign policy where the interest of Pakistan would be held supreme. He claimed that it was the right of Pakistan to import gas from any country of choice. Nevertheless, he reiterated his commitment that they would not live in isolation but strengthen ties with the entire world. He claimed that he favoured reforms in the judiciary. He said they change the four tier system in judiciary into three tier system.
Moreover, he claimed that the people of Fata would be asked whether they wanted to live in KP or in an independent province. the PML-N will form an autonomous National Accountability commission, adopt zero tolerance policy for corruption, ruthlessly stamp out corruption and across the board accountability of all holders of public offices would be ensured.
On the issue of new provinces, the PML-N chief vowed to establish an independent commission as the PML-N was in support of creating Hazara, South Punjab and Bahawalpur provinces. He said strong defence was imperative for the country and it would be made invincible by equipping the forces with ultra modern and scientific techniques to maintain balance of power in the region.
Short- and medium-term measures would be initiated to end loadshedding in three years, invest US$20 billion to generate 10,000-MW of electricity in the next five years and permanently eliminate circular debt. High priority would be given to import gas through pipelines, intensify oil and gas exploration, develop Thar coalfields by setting up of at least 5,000-MW of new coal fired power plants under the IPP mode in Sindh, develop alternative sources of energy.
Likewise, the provision of laptops to talented students, medical insurance card to poor people for getting standard health facilities and a housing scheme of 1000 clusters of 500 houses each for low income families in different parts of the country was part of PML-N manifesto.
Nawaz claimed that they would create a Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources through the merger of ministries of water and power and petroleum and natural resources. He said a specially deigned employment programme will be designed to generate three million new jobs in the public and private sectors including one million each in IT and SMEs sectors, minimum wages of workers will be gradually enhanced to Rs15,000 per month.
The PML-N, he said would strive to eventually provide a house to each Pakistani family through pubic-private partnership. “It will revive the economy, double the GDP growth to over six per cent, reduce budget deficit to 4pc, reduce the country’s dependence on foreign loans and assistance, revamp state enterprises eating Rs400 billion, decrease tax rates, ensure lower interest rates and make Pakistan emerge as one of the top ten economies of the world in 21st century.
He said all major export sectors would be sales tax free, an Export Import Bank (EXIM) would be set up.Nawaz said the government would improve the tax-to-GDP ratio to 15pc by 2018, informal economy will be brought into tax net, reduce tax evasion, reduce the number of federal and provincial taxes.
He said agriculture would be turned into a fully viable economic industry, high priority to be given to development of livestock and fisheries sectors, reclaim and irrigate additional land for allotment to landless, women haris and tenants and achieve food security.He said the government would introduce a transparent system of income support programme for needy families with special focus on widows, orphans and girl child.
National Education Emergency will be declared to eradicate illiteracy on war-footing basis, a vision 2025 for Pakistan’s education shall be formulated to transform the country to be among world’s best and a uniform system of education will be introduced step by step while the education budget would be enhanced to 4% of GDP by 2018.
A dynamic National Youth Policy will be implemented through skill development programme to create one million positions for apprenticeships, self-employment loans would be extended, services of youth will be utilised in national literacy programme and involve youth in governance at local level through special seats reserved for them in union and district councils.
The National Day for Minorities will be celebrated, they will have complete freedom of worship, legislative measures will be undertaken to prevent forced conversion of religion, development funds for minorities will be doubled and Christian community will be permitted to run their own educational institutions.
He said local government elections will be held within six months of general elections, police laws will be reviewed to depoliticise police, improve thana culture. The PML-N government will grant voting rights to all overseas Pakistanis and dual nationals.
He claimed that the performance of the Punjab government of PML-N during the past five years was reflective of the sincerity of PML-N in resolving masses problems. He claimed that the Punjab government had carried out record development works during the last five years. He said quality and transparency has been maintained in the implementation of development projects. Nawaz said an opposition camp was set up in Governor’s House against the Punjab government and governors have also been issuing statements against the Punjab government continuously. He said Governor’s Rule was also imposed in Punjab after toppling the provincial government. Nawaz said an unjust attitude was adopted towards the Punjab government and people of the province with regard to loadshedding of electricity and gas but in spite of all problems and hindrances, the Punjab government served the people round the clock and provided relief to them by completing mega development projects throughout the province. He said if a conducive and free atmosphere of investment is provided to the foreign investors, they make liberal investments and metro bus system is proof of this fact.
Nawaz said due to a favourable atmosphere of investment in Punjab, Turkish companies have made investment of billions of rupees in Punjab. He said the Punjab government also controlled dengue virus due to an effective strategy and concrete steps taken for this purpose. He said land record computerisation is a big achievement of the Punjab government which has provided relief to the people in obtaining Fard Malkiat (ownership deed) and transfer deeds of their property.
Online adds: Following are the highlights of the PML-N manifesto:-
1) Double the annual average rate of GDP growth from 3pc in the last five years to over 6pc in the next five years.
2) Accelerate the rate of industrial growth from three to eight percent per annum. Raise Investment GDP ratio from 12 to 20pc in the next five years.
3) Bring down the budget deficit to 4pc of GDP
4) Increase Tax GDP ratio from 9 to 15pc by 2018
5) Provide in cooperation with the private sector 1,000 clusters of 500 houses each for low-income families in different parts of the country.
6) Generate 10,000-MW additional electricity including 5000-MW new coal fired power plants under IPP mode.
7) Mobilise fresh investment of $20 billion for power plants and related infrastructures.
8) Progressively reducing transmission and distribution losses to 10pc.
9) Accelerate agricultural growth to an average of 4pc per annum, as an important component of a comprehensive national food security strategy.
10) Raise total spending on ‘non-pension’ social security from 1pc of GDP to 2pc by 2018.
11) Total expenditure on education to increase from 2 to 4pc of GDP by 2018.
12) 100pc enrolment of boys and girls by 2020 in line with the requirements of Article 25-A of the Constitution which makes “right to education” a fundamental right through education emergency.
13) Raise the overall literacy level from 54pc to 80pc in the shortest possible time.
14) Science laboratories and computer labs in all government secondary schools.
15) Danish Schools will be set up in all provinces.
16) Girls high school in every union council
17) Establishing District Education Authorities
18) Laptops for students in public universities on merit
19) Education Endowment Fund will be set up in all provinces for award of merit scholarships to needy students from low income families.
20) Expenditure on education to increase from 2 to 4pc of GDP by 2018.
21) Expenditure on health to be increased from 1% of GDP to 2% by 2018.
22) Medical Insurance Card to every family for basic health care at subsidised rates, as a part of comprehensive national Insurance Service.
23) Within 5 years, 100pc vaccination of children, 50pc reduction in maternal and infant mortality and 10pc reduction in the rate of population growth.
24) Each district will have at least one hospital with diagnostic facilities and required specialists.
25) 1,000 mobile health units will be launched to provide basic health facilities to remote areas.
26) Establishing District Health Authority in each district
27) Introduce and integrate ICT in all Ministries and Departments and in other major sectors like Banking and Trade.
28) Establish 500 ICT Centres in smaller cities and town to reduce the knowledge gap and break rural isolation.
29) Promote local software industry to generate annual exports of at least $10 billion by 2020.
30) New employment opportunities will be provided to over 3 million persons in public and private sectors including one million in the IT Sector and one million in SME Sector.
31) Minimum wage for workers will be gradually increased to Rs15,000 per month.
32) At least 50pc of annual remittances of $12 billion will be converted into productive investment through special products and financial instruments and a certain percentage of public offerings of all new floatations will be reserved for overseas Pakistanis.