Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Saturday the government was facilitating the business activities in the country and all impediments in the development of the industrial sector are being removed.
The premier’s remarks came during the groundbreaking ceremony in Lahore 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.
Imran said that after personally spearheading the PTI’s flagship affordable housing programme, he had come to realise just how badly Pakistan’s system “chokes development”.
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 went on to say he has 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.”
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. “ Speaking 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 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.
According to a statement by the Punjab government, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said that the park will generate employment opportunities for more than 500,000 people. “Accommodation facility for industrial workers will be provided over 200 acres of land,” he added.
He said that the project has gained great significance due to its proximity to the National Highway and Motorway. The chief minister said that 653 industrial units will be set up in the park.
“Punjab Small Industries Corporation has allocated Rs12 billion for providing loans to the youth. Under this scheme, loans of Rs25,000 to Rs5 million will be given to the youth on easy terms,” read the statement.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan met Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar in Lahore and the two discussed the implementation of the smart lockdown strategy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Imran expressed satisfaction over the performance of Chief Minister Buzdar, amid speculation and unverified reports of the government thinking to replace the chief minister.
The prime minister appreciated the Punjab government’s 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.
Imran, expressing satisfaction over steps taken by Punjab government for providing relief to masses, said that provincial government did an excellent job in curbing spread of coronavirus.
Usman Buzdar briefed the PM about the supply and stability of flour and wheat prices in the province and steps taken by the provincial government to curb the spread of novel coronavirus.
The Chief Minister also apprised the PM about establishment of River Ravi Front Authority to build a new city in the north of Lahore. The new Dubai-like city is expected to attract investments worth Rs5 trillion by the private sector, he added.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said so far 250,000 Pakistanis have returned home despite global air travel disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic, adding that 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 added his government would continue to support overseas Pakistanis in every way possible. Last month, the prime minister had approved the resumption of international flights after Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari raised the matter with him.
Later the federal government had announced it would provide employment to the dismissed Overseas Pakistanis and have prepared a special portal to facilitate unemployed returning nationals.
Registration began on the website of Overseas Employment Cooperation for the dismissed Overseas Pakistanis, under which those who have lost their jobs and have returned home from abroad will be able to get re-employment.
Special Assistant on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari shared that through the platform returning Pakistanis would be able to apply for re-employment abroad, certified training and can also register for financial assistance from the government.