Punjab CM, Netherlands envoy discuss matters of mutual interest

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Wouter Plomp, ambassador of the Netherlands called on Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shahbaz Sharif at his office on Wednesday and discussed matters of mutual interest including the promotion of bilateral trade and investment. The situation arising in the wake of climate changes and GSP Plus conventions also came under discussion and it was agreed to enhance cooperation in agriculture, food security, food processing, environment and other fields.

Talking on the occasion, Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz noted that good friendly relations exist between Pakistan and the Netherlands. He thanked the Netherlands for its support of GPS Plus status and pointed out that Punjab has ample opportunities for investment in agriculture, food processing, food security, environment and other sectors. The Netherlands has special expertise in the fields of agriculture, food processing and water management, he remarked and added that Punjab is an agricultural province and the development of the agrarian economy is a priority.

The CM explained that the technical assistance of the Netherlands in the agricultural sector would benefit the farmers of Punjab.

Climate change is a daunting challenge for the whole world and Pakistan is also facing this issue; he mentioned and emphasised that the United Nations needs to take urgent joint action to address this challenge.

Wouter Plomp stated that there are many opportunities for cooperation in the agricultural sector of Punjab and expressed the desire to promote partnership with the Punjab government. Paul Ederer, Economic Consular of the Netherlands; Asma Hamid, Honorary Consular of the Netherlands in Lahore; Ali Raza, Legal Adviser; chairman planning & development, secretaries of agriculture and information depts., chairman Punjab Board of Investment & Trade and others were also present.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz Sharif has ordered administrative machinery to remain on 24/7 alert in view of the monsoon season and possible floods. He also asked the commissioners to complete their preparations because of the threat of urban flooding and deluge. Timely evacuation of populations within the river bed should be the priority; he said and stressed removing encroachments inside river beds. In this regard, public representatives should also be taken on board to ensure timely evacuation of populations within river beds, he added. Weather conditions are highly unpredictable and unusual; therefore, the level of preparation also requires extraordinary measures, he said. The preparedness should be conspicuous at the grassroots and any loophole should be plugged in without delay. The CM said that the real challenge is to execute the plan and made it clear that he would take stern action if people face any difficulty. All concerned provincial and federal agencies should perform their duties under coordinated and best coordination; he reiterated and directed the commissioners to submit their reports after inspection of rivers’ embankments in their areas.

He said that all arrangements should also be audited by a third party for authentic information and data at the government level.

The third-party audit should be done with a professional approach; he added and ordered to establish an institutional mechanism for third-party audit.

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