LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks to a delegation of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce on Saturday.—INP
LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks to a delegation of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce on Saturday.—INP

LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced launching a massive crackdown on money laundering, saying that a law to this effect is being prepared.

“(As much as) Rs10 billion is being reportedly laundered annually,” he said, adding that the government was actively working on multi-pronged initiatives — including wooing friendly countries (to help Pakistan curb money laundering) and persuading overseas Pakistanis to send remittances through banking channels, instead of illegal means such as hawala and hundi — to keep the dollar’s flight in check.

The prime minister said this while presiding over a Punjab cabinet meeting at Chief Minister’s Secretariat and during a meeting with a Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry delegation on Saturday.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar co-chaired the cabinet meeting which was also attended by special assistants to the prime minister Naeemul Haq and Iftikhar Durrani.

Various foreign firms are ready to invest in Pakistan, Imran tells Punjab cabinet while chairing its meeting

PM Khan said that there was no need to be concerned over the devaluation of the rupee, adding that the government had refused to directly approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to avoid tough conditions — that normally squeezed economies and shifted burden on the masses.

“The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government, during its first 100 days, tried to bridge the deficit gap,” he said. “China, Saudi Arabia and the UAE gave an encouraging response enabling the country to become less dependent on the IMF.”

The prime minister said: “The government’s direct approach to the IMF may have hiked prices and increased joblessness.”

He said that the government had convinced various international companies to attract investment worth billions of rupees, adding that Pakistan was lucky to have an ideal geo-strategic location. “The US-based Exxon Mobil has agreed to come back to Pakistan after 27 years to explore gas reserves about which the country will know further by June,” he added.

He also said that Suzuki was investing around $450 million, Coca Cola $500m, Pepsi $800m, and Fonton — a Chinese car-manufacturing company — $900m to set up a manufacturing plant.

The PM further said that the over 120m people under the age of 35 years offered a huge potential which needed to be tapped in a big way.

Good governance

Asserting that the Punjab government should focus on good governance, the PM said that it would be instrumental in bringing massive foreign investment to the country. He urged the ministers to continue planning how their ministries could improve lives of the common people. “Every minister should focus on improving the life of the common man,” he said. The PM also directed the provincial ministers to step up their austerity measures. “The ministers should send me a two-page report about austerity measures taken during the first 100 days as well as their plans ahead,” he said.

He told the ministers that 100 days of their government were over and now it was time to be answerable to the masses. “There will be no concession from now onwards,” he warned.

Mr Khan asked the chief minister to monitor the performance of provincial ministers and government departments.

Earlier, the provincial ministers briefed the prime minister about their performance and claimed that 70 per cent of the targets had been achieved during the 100 days, while the remaining were about to be achieved.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2018