PM’s welfare agenda

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WHILE enumerating a number of steps taken by his Government for progress and welfare of the masses, Prime Minister Imran Khan has declared that he wanted a major improvement in the life of the under-privileged segments of the society before completion of the ongoing tenure.

Addressing a crowd at the jam-packed Municipal Stadium in Skardu on Thursday, he referred to the largest food subsidy programme, expansion of the network of universal health insurance of one million for every household of the country, improved road connectivity in Gilgit-Baltistan and completion of the International Airport at Skardu and said such projects and programmes would go a long way in transforming lives of the people.

The Prime Minister can definitely take pride in launching some of the initiatives that have the potential to bring about a real change in the life of the common man.

Though the subsidy of one thousand rupee for a family for a month is not enough to compensate for the price-hike, especially for large families, it would definitely mitigate the woes of the poor as they would be able to get basic food items like wheat flour, ghee and sugar at much lower rates.

Based on its experience, the government might consider a substantial increase in the monthly amount of subsidy and payment of electricity and gas bills can also be included in the ambit of the programme in view of ever-increasing tariff, which is going beyond the absorbing capacity of the households.

The health card is surely a revolutionary step as now every citizen will have an opportunity to get quality treatment.

The health card scheme envisages diversion of huge budget to the private sector health institutions, which should help them make investment in upgradation and improvement of services delivery.

However, such programmes are prone to misuse by hospitals and health facilities and therefore, there is dire need for a strict and comprehensive monitoring to check against any possibility of corrupt practices like charging for services, tests and medicines that are never provided.

This is important in view of the fact that most of the card holders are either illiterate or semi-literate and do not have the proper comprehension of the procedures and intricacies involved.

At the same time, the Government should also start focusing on the neglected education sector as the country cannot develop without promotion of quality education and proper research and development.

The determination of the Prime Minister to develop GB on modern lines to make it one of the choicest destinations for tourists is welcome but the objective cannot be achieved without developing a sound infrastructure in the region.

Projects like Skardu International Airport, Jaglot-Skardu strategic road and proposed luxury resorts would surely improve connectivity and pave the way for greater influx of tourists but this is not enough.

At the moment, access to scores of beautiful lakes, water-falls and scenic spots is severely restricted due to absence of roads or their dilapidated conditions and a comprehensive programme needs to be launched to address this challenge.

Strangely enough, the Prime Minister cautioned the locals to safeguard their interests as outsiders would be eying their property and land in view of the area’s tourism potential.

It is understood that the Government or the locals alone cannot take care of all aspects of progress and development and creation of facilities for tourists like establishment of hotels and motels, health facilities, fleets of reliable and comfortable transport, chair-lifts and entertainment parks.

Fast-paced development can take place if local and foreign investors are encouraged to undertake different projects keeping needs of the local people and tourists in view.

The Prime Minister has also talked about linking GB with Azad Kashmir with roads and in this backdrop one hopes he would take personal interest to get the required feasibility done and initiate mega road projects under the framework of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Completion of hydro-electricity projects would not only improve socio-economic lives of the people of the area but also ensure reliable supply of power to the region.

Now that the PTI has its own Government in GB, it is time to implement this vision on top priority basis as development of GB as a perfect tourist destination could help mitigate financial and economic vows of the country. Investment in GB is worth-making.

 

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