All impediments in way of FDI to be removed: PM

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the government is committed to removing all impediments in the way of foreign investments in Pakistan to industrialise the country.
Speaking at Country Strategy Dialogue on Pakistan, organised by the World Economic Forum, through a video link, the Prime Minister said, “We are dealing with all the problems like bureaucratic red tapism to encourage foreign investors to invest in Pakistan.”
The Prime Minister said today’s Pakistan is all about wealth creation, where everyone will be welcomed to come and invest to industrialise the country. He said that it will definitely help lift the poor people out of poverty.
The Prime Minister said that his government believes in facilitating and encouraging public-private partnership to improve governance and strengthen the economy. He said that Pakistan is a huge market of 220 million people with a majority young population.
Highlighting his government’s achievements and challenges to stabilise the economy
and save the people’s lives from Covid-19 pandemic, the Prime Minister said, “We opened up the construction and the agriculture sectors during the first wave of coronavirus.” He said cash assistance was provided to 15 million families to help them in the time of pandemic.
“About 80 percent of the Pakistani labour class belongs to informal sectors that is why we preferred smart lockdown over across the board lockdown like in other countries to address the economic woes of our informal workforce,” he said.
He said, “Now we are hitting a second peak of the virus and we have decided not to close our businesses and only non-essential sectors will be locked down to prevent people from the disease and hunger.”
Speaking about the two biggest challenges that his government faced when they came into power, he said: “The fiscal deficit – the biggest in our country’s history – and the current account deficit that was also a challenge.”
The Prime Minister said when his government came into power, for a year and a half, they brought down the deficits and introduced policies to boost the economy.
He said that exports are improving, foreign direct investment (FDI), and remittances are increasing. He said, “We gave incentives to the business community and now the textile industry of the country is running with full capacity.”
“Because the people [cooperated] with us, they complied with our measures. We came out of it better than any other country,” the Prime Minister said, adding: “We saved our economy and we saved people from dying from the virus.”
However, the Premier said that he is worried as the second peak has hit Pakistan, and the people are not taking it seriously. “We don’t know how long this wave will last,” he added.
Speaking about money laundering, he said that his government has clamped down on launderers, and as a result, after 17 years, Pakistan had a current account surplus in the last quarter.
“Among the countries hit by Covid-19, Pakistan is fortunate,” the Prime Minister said, adding: “After attaining stability, we are now moving in the right direction.”
The Prime Minister also informed the forum about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and said that the country needs skilled labour for the project.
Talking about the automobile industry, he said that Pakistan would welcome investment in the sector. “Pakistan wants investors to have facilities and benefits here.”
“Small businesses’ development is Pakistan’s top priority,” the PM added.
Shedding light on Indo-Pak ties, the PM said that Pakistan has persisting problems with India. “Hopefully, with proper leadership in India, relations will return to normal.”
Reiterating that Pakistan is a major player in the US-Taliban talks, the Premier noted that the two parties have agreed to discuss issues on a table through the assistance of Islamabad.
The Prime Minister said that he aspired to see peace prevail in Afghanistan as a result of the US-Taliban peace talks that took place after years of bloodshed. “Peace in Afghanistan will benefit surrounding areas,” he said.
“President Trump has done well in Afghanistan,” Khan said, adding: “Hopefully, [President-elect Joe] Biden will not back down from [the] good steps in Afghanistan.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has once again appealed to the masses to cooperate with the government and take precautions so that people’s livelihoods are not affected by restrictions.
In a press talk in the provincial capital on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said that the authorities are worried about increasing pressure on hospitals and medical staff due to the spike in cases.
He, however, ruled out a lockdown, saying that the government does not want “people to die due to hunger while protecting them from coronavirus”. He added that the country’s exports have finally picked up and the government does not want to hurt them again by shutting down factories and businesses.
He said that the country was able to overcome the situation in June, when Pakistan saw its first peak, by “coming together and taking precautions” and urged the public to do the same again.
Noting the rapid increase in the number of daily deaths due to the virus, the Prime Minister said that people should avoid large gatherings as close contact increases the spread of COVID-19.
He said that there is no pressure on Pakistan to recognise Israel, adding Pakistan has friendly relations with Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and UAE and will not recognise Israel until the Palestine issue is resolved.
“Our stance is very clear from day one and Quaid-i-Azam in 1948 had said that Pakistan will never recognise Israel until Palestine are given their due rights” he added.
Responding to a question regarding mass rallies held by opposition parties, the Premier said: “Nothing will come of these rallies and gatherings, no one will get an NRO. They (opposition) are endangering people’s lives.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that Bundal Island is an important project for Karachi owing to rising issues faced by the city, expanding manifold with the passage of time.
“Expansion in the city has caused a rise in pollution,” he said.
Further speaking over the importance of Ravi River Project for Lahore, he said that the green cover of the provincial capital of Punjab has witnessed a decline by 70 percent, which has caused rising pollution besides water scarcity issues in the city.
“Ravi River Project will save Lahore while Bundal Island would save Karachi,” Imran Khan said adding that the former would resolve water scarcity issues while the latter would save agricultural land. The prime minister said that a comprehensive strategy was also devised for the Bundal Island project and it would help in avoiding disposal of garbage in the sea.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the Punjab government to take all-out steps against profiteers to control artificial price hike.
The Prime Minister was talking to Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar during a meeting in the provincial capital on Wednesday.
He also directed to complete ongoing development projects in the province on priority basis to provide maximum relief to the masses.
Overall political situation of the province, various ongoing development projects and administrative matters were discussed during the meeting.
Earlier, Chief Minister briefed the Prime Minister on steps taken to control the coronavirus, Universal Health Insurance Baahimat Bazurg and Insaf Medicine cards programmes.
Buzdar briefed the Premier regarding the performance of the provincial cabinet.
The chief minister also apprised the Premier regarding the political and administrative matters of the province in the meeting. The PM was also briefed on the progress of the multi-billion Ravi River Front Urban Development (RRFUD) project.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday visited the residence of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain to inquire after his health.
The Prime Minister wished Chaudhry Shujaat the best of health and prayed for his early recovery.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, PM’s Special Assistant Shahbaz Gill, Federal Minister for Housing Tariq Bashir Cheema, Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, provincial lawmaker Moonis Elahi and others were also present on the occasion.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the ministries for commerce and industries to ensure all necessary support to the textile sector.
In his tweets on Wednesday, the Prime Minister pointed out that Faisalabad textile industry is seeing a massive rise in demand and export orders. He said that his instructions to the relevant ministries are aimed at enabling the textile industry meet their growing demands.
Imran Khan said the textile sector is one of a number of positive developments in the national economy despite COVID-19.
On Thursday last, the Prime Minister directed the authorities concerned to resolve the problems facing the textile industry in Faisalabad at the earliest.
Talking to a delegation of business representatives and exporters associated with the textile industry in Faisalabad, he directed Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar to consult with all the stakeholders about setting up of an Expo Center in the city. He asked the ministry of communications to take steps for setting up a motorway interchange at Chak Jhumra. The Prime Minister also asked the ministry of aviation to work out a strategy to build Faisalabad International Airport. – TLTP

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