PRIME Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday asked Karachi businessmen to devise a plan for an investment of $1 billion dollars from Saudi Arabia.
Addressing a ceremony at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he said gift investment of the Saudi Government is available and it is now for businessmen to make a feasibility plan for projects like setting up a desalination plant that could ensure availability of clean water for every home within five years.
In a separate development, the Prime Minister withdrew 17% sales tax on solar panels imposed by the previous government.
These two announcements have much meaning for Karachiites as something concrete has been offered to them in decades to help resolve the problem of clean water and for people of Pakistan, who would get a clear incentive to go for home and commercial solar systems in the backdrop of recurring shortages of electricity and its rising prices.
The remarks of the Prime Minister also confirmed again that he got firm assurances of economic and financial support from the Kingdom, which has been taking keen interest in the progress and development of Pakistan and welfare of its people.
We hope, in the light of the directions of the Prime Minister, workable plans would be prepared and offered to Saudis not just for the said one billion dollar investment but also for other sectors.
As for tax on import of solar panels, this was bitterly and rightly opposed by Pakistan Solar Association (PSA) as it negated the declared policy of promoting alternative energy sources, which offers a way out of the energy sector problems.
The withdrawal of the duty is reflective of the futuristic approach of the Prime Minister as this has the potential to revolutionize the energy sector provided a zero duty regime is also introduced for other components of the solar system and special incentives are given for its adoption in rural areas, where electrification and maintenance cost is inhibiting.