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ISLAMABAD: The business community should partner with the government for projects and identify opportunities for joint ventures under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal said on Monday.

“This is essential if we want to take Pakistan among the top 25 economies of the world,” he said speaking at the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI).

To achieve this ambitious target, there is a need to increase exports to $150 billion, he added.

Pakistan’s economic take off has changed the perception of the world about the country, he said. He went on to add: “In the 90s, Pakistan developed an economic plan that was later used by India, but unfortunately Pakistan became a victim of political instability.”

The country will be able to achieve a 5 per cent growth rate this year, he added, expressing hope that it will reach 6pc next year.

Discussing CPEC, he said that there were several misconceptions against the project.

“CPEC would be more beneficial to Pakistan than China as it would start a new era of energy and infrastructure development projects in the country. It will bring many backward areas of Pakistan, including Balochistan, into mainstream and will generate lot of jobs and business activities in such areas,” he said.

The ICCI members were informed that 16,000 mega watt (MW) electricity was added to the national grid in the past 60 years. Energy projects under CPEC would generate 11,000 MW electricity, which would be further enhanced to 30,000 MW by 2025, the minister added.

In his welcome address, ICCI president Khalid Iqbal Malik said the private sector would avail maximum opportunities offered under CPEC but local investors must be provided similar incentives as those being given to the Chinese.

“The local industry needs latest machinery and equipment to modernise and produce value-added products. We face up to 28pc duties on import of industrial machinery. The government should introduce zero-rated import regime for industrial machinery to facilitate the up-gradation of local industry,” he said.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2016