ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said his vision was quite clear on how the country could be pulled out from crisis.

“Those who have looted the country during the last 10 years are claiming that the PTI government has failed,” the prime minister said while inaugurating the first housing scheme under the government’s Naya Pakistan Housing Project (NPHP) here at sector G-13. He added that those who wanted the government to fail claimed that he was confused, but “I am not confused, I was not confused when I entered politics and I am not confused when in power”.

“My vision is simple and straight: how to make Pakistan a welfare state and improve the life of the downtrodden,” Mr Khan said.

The prime minister said that a handful of people with vested interests did not want change because they wanted to continue getting benefits. “These people are everywhere, including in the Federal Board of Revenue,” he added.

Says he has vision for pulling country out of crisis

Talking about the education system, the prime minister said that presently three types of education systems existed — English-medium, Urdu-medium and madressah education — and blamed the system for “keeping the nation weak and underdeveloped”.

Criticising political opponents and his predecessors, the prime minister said they were responsible for the nation’s plight as they had burdened it with debt. “They have transferred their money abroad, which caused the devaluation of the rupee and the price hike,” he said. He added that his government was paying “Rs6.5 billion every day as interest on the loans obtained by earlier governments”.

About the NPHP, Mr Khan said that the government had decided to provide affordable housing facility to the poor and low-grade government employees. He explained that his first priorities were health, education and employment. He said he had come to know about a retired government employee who had lost his job and official accommodation too, adding that the country required 10 million houses but the salaried class did not have the funds to have their dream houses.

“The government has made a plan to provide 5m housing units to deserving people,” he said, adding that the plan was to turn the country’s slums into towering high-rises via a revolutionary new construction mechanism invented by the Chinese. “A Chinese company has told me they can make prefabricated home and build a floor in just one week, so just imagine it can build a 50-storey building in just 50 weeks.” This construction method, he said, would be applied to kutchi abadis so that high-rise apartment buildings could accommodate people currently living in slums.

On the occasion, Finance Minister Umar said that if the federal government even came close to building 5m houses, it would be the biggest economic project in Pakistan’s history. A ‘revolving fund’ worth Rs5bn had been approved of, he said, that would be used to grant up to Rs20bn in loans to aspiring house owners. In the initial phase of the NPHP, 110,000 housing units are to be constructed in Balochistan for the fishermen of Gwadar, while 25,000 units are to be built in Islamabad for government employees.

Digitalisation

Earlier, in a meeting at the Prime Minister Office, a team of Pakistani IT experts from the UAE, invited by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, briefed the prime minister on the way forward in the digitalisation of various government processes. The discussion encompassed transparency and efficiency in government processes using emerging technologies. The briefing focused on a next-generation trade platform for Pakistan that will usher the country into the next era of trade efficiency.

The prime minister, in his remarks, said that digitalisation is critical to ensuring efficiency and transparency in conduct of official businesses.

Ease of business

Prime Minister Imran Khan also chaired a separate meeting to review progress on ‘ease of doing business’. It was said that after the integration of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan with Punjab and Sindh business registration portals, a company can now be registered in one day with the SECP on its online platform.

The prime minister was apprised that the Lahore Development Authority has started its one-window operation regarding construction permits.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2019