Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday sought to allay concerns regarding an impending economic meltdown in the country, saying he will take the country out of this "difficult time".
Addressing a ceremony in connection with the launch of the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme, Khan said he will present a roadmap before the nation listing steps the government will take to stabilise the economy.
"Have courage, there is nothing to worry about," the prime minister told the audience, assuring the nation that the turbulence in the economy won't last long.
The premier said he will "guide" the nation every week on his government's economic plans.
Khan said an impression had been created in the last 48 hours "as if the sky is going to fall [or] the day of judgement is upon us", but instead sought to explain the issues faced by the economy.
He said the previous governments had taken loans recklessly, which has resulted in the country's debt ballooning from Rs6 trillion to Rs30 trillion in the past 10 years alone.
He said the previous PML-N government had started its term with a $3 billion current account deficit, but the 40-day-old Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government inherited an $18bn current account deficit.
Pakistan today faces a shortfall of $10-12 billion to pay its loans and purchase imports in the short term, he said, adding that his government has been debating seeking help from friendly countries and approaching the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout programme as well.
He reiterated that the government is seeking funds from external sources only for the short term, as the economic reforms and austerity measures initiated by his government "will take six months to show results".
Talking about possible recourses to bridge the deficit, Khan said the total amount laundered out of Pakistan annually, according to the US State Department, is $10bn.
"So if we had curbed the money laundering [in the past], we wouldn't have to pursue loans today," he said.
The country also wouldn't have to knock on the Fund's door if the government managed to convince overseas Pakistanis to send $20bn in remittances through banking channels, he said.
Khan said the incentives given by his government can also lead to exports rising by $10bn from a current $20bn.
The options available show that "ours is a wealthy country," the prime minister said. "The only misfortune of this country has been the lack of management."
'5 million affordable houses in 5 years'
Giving details of the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme, the prime minister revealed that five million affordable houses will be constructed in five years targeting the low-income segments of society.
The scheme will bring long-due prosperity in the country, he said, adding that at least 40 other industries connecting with housing will also be set in motion as soon as construction is started for the project in urban as well as rural areas.
"The target of this [plan] is the common man, who could not even think about owning a house."
Khan said while citizens of many other countries build their houses through loans, only 0.25 per cent of Pakistani citizens take loans for the purpose due to a lack of appropriate legal structures. The government's housing policy will seek to eliminate these hurdles, he said.
The construction for the scheme will be carried out by the private sector, while the government will facilitate it by removing hurdles and providing the land for the construction.
In this regard, the prime minister announced the formation of the 'Naya Pakistan Housing Authority' that will provide one-window operations to facilitate the construction industry. The authority will be set up in three months, while a 17-member task force will oversee the housing project until then.
The government will also locate katchi abadis across the country and regularise them, he announced.
Khan disclosed that a 60-day pilot project will be commenced tomorrow in coordination with the National Database and Registration Authority in seven districts to assess the demand and payment capacity for affordable houses.