Friday August 19, 2022

Buzdar remains Imran’s choice for Punjab

By News Desk
July 19, 2020


LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed satisfaction over performance of Punjab Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar on Saturday, amid speculations and unverified reports of the government thinking to replace him.

The premier met the Punjab CM on Saturday, and the two discussed implementation of smart lockdown strategy amid the coronavirus pandemic. He appreciated the Punjab government measures for curbing the disease and relief efforts for the public. The meeting came in the backdrop of the government officials dismissing news of Buzdar’s removal on the basis of "below par" performance.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said after personally spearheading Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s flagship affordable housing programme, he had come to realise just how badly Pakistan's system “chokes development".

He said construction of 5 million affordable houses for the low-income groups was his government’s flagship programme and to expedite it, Naya Pakistan Housing Authority was created.

The premier's remarks came during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Quaid-e-Azam Business Park. The park is spread over 1,536 acres of land and is located on the Lahore-Islamabad Motorway, in Sheikhupura. It contains 12 different industrial zones, according to Punjab Industrial Estates Development and Management Company (PIEDMC).

Addressing the gathering, PM Imran regretted how under such a “degenerated” system, the government which should be facilitating the private sector, instead becomes an obstacle in the way. “They put up obstacles where it is absolutely unnecessary. This thinking that we must not let anyone get anything easily is inbuilt into the system.” He said the system is such that rewards anyone who has money to spend on bribery. The premier went on to lament how the obstacles ingrained within the country's unnecessarily red-tape-oriented procedures are such that kill any initiatives by small and medium enterprises before they can be birthed. "Our SMEs are our backbone. For them, the systems are so difficult that the common man, who operates on small margin, their entire initiative is ruined.”

The prime minister said he had witnessed firsthand, how a common labourer, when he goes abroad, sees considerable growth within a span of a few years. “They excel there because the system allows it.

“What is the American dream? The American dream means that whatever you dream you can achieve it. Their system rewards hard work. Our system has degenerated to a point where it is nothing but a hurdle.”

PM Imran said for the first time, Pakistan will see a removal of these obstacles in the construction and housing sectors. “There was something standing in the way at every juncture previously, whether it was the FBR or something else.

“So this is our government’s biggest effort to give our private enterprises, businesses, industrialists the opportunity to shine and we will facilitate them.

“This will take place slowly but surely […] Reformation has already begun,” said the prime minister.

He vowed that the government’s battle against this deeply entrenched system will continue.

“This Quaid-e-Azam Business Park is an excellent opportunity for Pakistan right now.”

About his visits to China, he said that every time he went there, multiple businesses showed an interest in operating in Pakistan, but complained that the procedures need to be simplified.

He said that a comparison was then made with other countries and it was found out that procedures in Vietnam and Bangladesh even are far better and companies are relocating there.

The premier said that now with the one-window operation in the business park, foreign companies will be looking to make an investment in the industrial zones located there.

He assured the Punjab government that the federal government is willing to provide any assistance required and told Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to contact Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar if need be.

The PM said no nation in the world could aspire to excel or become successful without industrialisation and assured that the government would fully facilitate the small and medium industries, businessmen and industrialists with initiatives like ease of doing business.

During 1960s, the country had been leading the region in terms of industrialisation, but afterwards lagged behind due to certain short-term policies, he added.

Referring to Singapore, he said it had $50,000 income per capita. Those countries had planning but we lacked it. The countries like Malaysia and Korea borrowed the plans of industrialisation and excelled, but Pakistan lagged behind.

“Our only focus was on winning elections and short-term planning. I have strong conviction that our nation possessed huge potential in the whole region,” he added.

The PM appreciated the business-friendly steps taken by the Punjab government. He appreciated the Punjab chief minister for the site of the park with Faisalabad and Lahore as being the two major hubs of business and assured him that the federal government would resolve all their issues.

Earlier, speaking on the occasion, Punjab CM Sardar Usman Buzdar said about 5,000 people would get jobs from the initiative. He said Rs56 billion tax relief was provided by the provincial government due to coronavirus.

Other initiatives aimed at ease of doing business were taken and Rs12 billion were being provided to young people to start their businesses, he added.

Different development projects were in the pipeline including Khanki and Thal canal, he said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan said so far 250,000 Pakistanis have returned home despite global air travel disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic. He said his government had fulfilled its promise to bring back stranded Pakistanis and overseas workers.

“Despite massive disruptions in global air travel, we have fulfilled our promise of bringing back stranded Pakistanis and our overseas workers. 250,000 Pakistanis from around the world have been brought home,” PM Imran said in a tweet on Saturday.

He said his government would continue to support overseas Pakistanis in every way possible