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Monday June 24, 2024

PM stresses hard work for prosperity, says ‘witchcraft’ won’t work

PM urged provincial governments to further support SIFC and move ahead in unison like a family to compensate for losses

By News Desk & our correspondents
May 26, 2024
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs the 10th Apex Committee meeting of the Special Investment and Facilitation Council (SIFC) In Islamabad on May 25, 2024. — PID
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs the 10th Apex Committee meeting of the Special Investment and Facilitation Council (SIFC) In Islamabad on May 25, 2024. — PID

ISLAMABAD: Stressing the need for hard work and austerity to steer the cash-strapped country out of the economic crises, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday remarked that “witchcraft” won’t help the nation.

Addressing the Apex Committee of the Special Investment and Facilitation Council’s (SIFC) 10th meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office, he said that there was no room for idleness and inertia and whoever showed laziness would not be a part of his team.

“We have to make Pakistan a prosperous and active country. We have to work together day and night. The time will come that Pakistan will regain its lost place in the world, where there will be development and employment,” he added.

Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir, chief ministers from all the four provinces, members of the federal cabinet and high-level officials attended the meeting.

The participants of the meeting reviewed progress on economic cooperation with friendly countries.

Addressing the civil-military forum established to attract foreign investment, the premier said that joint efforts were being made to resolve the country’s issues.

Briefing the participants about his recent visits to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, PM Shehbaz said that during the meetings, leaders and delegations of other countries expressed satisfaction at the performance of SIFC. The UAE leadership had announced 10 billion dollars investment in Pakistan and expressed its complete confidence in SIFC. He said that investment of the UAE and Saudi Arabia in Pakistan would be done through the SIFC.

Referring to the alleged criticism over the body, the premier said: “Concerns were expressed when the SIFC took legal form.” Over time, the forum silenced its critics with its achievements, he said, adding: “SIFC is playing a key role in the development of Pakistan.”

The prime minister also cited his meeting with a German delegation that was also aware of the functioning of SIFC. The premier said that all the provincial governments repose trust in the SIFC, adding that they would achieve their goals through the forum.

The prime minister urged the provincial governments to further support the SIFC and move ahead in unison like a family to compensate for the losses of the past and overcome issues of poverty and hunger in the country.

He said the federal government did not get enough for initiating development projects after distribution of resources among the provinces, therefore, under such conditions all the governments should move together with unity.

The prime minister also underlined the need for capacity building and enhancing professionalism of experts in different fields. He said that he had already instructed the ministries clearly to hire consultants and experts and would soon seek their feedback.

He urged all the stakeholders to redouble their efforts and promote the local talent and industry, adding that 60 percent population of the country comprised youth, who should be trained in IT field while the natural resources worth billions of rupees lying untapped be fully utilized.

The prime minister also credited the SIFC for paving way for the Reko Diq project in Balochistan province.

Moving on to economic reforms, PM Shehbaz told the participants that a foreign firm had been hired for the digitisation of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

According to a statement from the PM’s Office, the SIFC met with PM Shehbaz in the chair to review various initiatives and projects that fall under the forum. Speaking on the occasion, COAS Gen Munir assured the government of the army’s cooperation in their steps for economic prosperity in the country. He also assured the military’s cooperation on the government’s initiatives for socio-economic welfare.

The statement further said that the forum also reaffirmed its determination to improve the environment for investment. Matters related to privatisation of loss-making state-owned enterprises were also discussed in the meeting. The forum expressed satisfaction with the ongoing privatisation process and stressed the need to complete the process in collaboration with stakeholders concerned.

During his interaction with journalists following the meeting, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur said that he attended the huddle to represent his province. “I will not compromise on the share of the province.” The CM said that he put forth the concerns of his province before the forum, adding that he would perform his role for the betterment of his province and the country. “People gave us the mandate to fight for their rights.”

During the meeting, the CM said that he opposed the proposal to impose tax on the merged districts. He was of the view that they could increase revenue by doing reforms in the mining sector. “I will go to any extent to give relief to the people.”

Responding to a question, the chief minister said that presenting the budget was their constitutional right. A day earlier, taking lead over the federal government as well as the other three provinces, CM Gandapur-led KP government unveiled its maiden over Rs1.75 trillion budget for the fiscal year 2024-25.

On the other hand, Information Minister Attaullah Tarar told journalists that the SIFC’s 10th meeting was held in a pleasant atmosphere.

Talking to journalists, the minister said that the huddle conveyed a message that the Federation and the provinces were on the same page on national issues. CM Gandapur acknowledged the importance of SIFC, he said, adding: “Ali Amin Gandapur said that he is not out of SIFC.”

Matters related to $10 billion from the UAE, economy’s positive indicators and other issues were discussed in the meeting, he added. The premier had already clarified that their focus would be on investment instead of aid, Tarar said.

To a question, the information minister termed the UAE’s $10 billion investment pledge a “big effort” of the army chief. Tarar said he was grateful to all chief ministers for not only attending the meeting but also giving their input. He said this forum will move forward with the input of all including the chief ministers of the four provinces.

The minister also congratulated all the provincial governments on meaningful meeting of the SIFC. He said investment will be promoted through the SIFC forum both at federal and provincial level. The prime minister had issued directives for establishment of six desks to promote investment and trade through the SIFC, which was the lifeline of the country’s economy. The special desks will be established for the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, China, Qatar, European Union and United States of America.

He said that meetings of SIFC Executive Committee will be held more frequently and it will be empowered to make decisions.

To a question, Tarar said he had a conversation with chief minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in a cordial atmosphere. He said that in politics, doors for talks and consultation were kept open and this was a good omen. To another question, he said that on privatisation of PIA, substantial development had been done. Capacity building of ministries will be done and consultants will be hired.

He said the SIFC had played an important role in investment agreements with friendly countries, who had shared interests with Pakistan and had always cooperated with Pakistan.

Tarar said all financial indicators were positive and allocations were being made by friendly countries. He said inflation had come down from 37 pc to 17 percent and its trickledown effects were reaching the masses. He hoped that inflation will come down further in the coming days.