Foundation of good governance, reforms laid: govt

Updated August 19, 2019

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Special Assistant to PM on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan speaks at a ceremony on Sunday.—APP
Special Assistant to PM on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan speaks at a ceremony on Sunday.—APP

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led government on Sunday presented it first-year performance report, claiming that the country had been put on the right track and people would start getting benefits from the second year of its term.

“The first year of the government was quite difficult due to economic crisis it inherited from the previous regime but we have laid foundation of good governance and reforms,” said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan at a ceremony held at the Prime Minister Office in which one-year performance report of the government was launched.

She said earlier Prime Minister Imran Khan had planned to address the nation on completion of one year of his government, but due to the Kashmir issue, he cancelled the plan with a view that during prevailing tension between Pakistan and India, he could not address the nation on his government’s performance.

Dr Awan said the government believed in the right to freedom of expression and speech and Prime Minister Khan had not tried to curb the media at any level or at any forum.

Special Assistant to the PM on Political Affairs Naeemul Haq said: “We have taken a number of initiatives for the betterment of the country and the coming years will be better. The government will announce Rs900 billion development budget for the next year against Rs500bn of the current year.”

PM’s aide, launching first-year performance report, says government’s policies will start benefiting people from second year

Later, Dr Awan launched the report which said: “Pakistan Postal Service and National Highway Authority were success stories during the past year. The housing ministry launched the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme to reduce housing shortage in the country. The government introduced visa on arrival policy and new tourism policy to attract foreign tourists. Similarly, the interior ministry improved border security.

Dr Awan said in the coming week, one ministry would present its performance report before the media and answer questions on a daily basis.

Talking about the foreign ministry’s success, she lauded the ministry for raising the Kashmir issue at the international forums, including the United Nations. “It was a big success of the foreign ministry that for the first time [in 50 years] a UN session took place [on Kashmir issue] despite India repeatedly calling for a veto of this in the past,” she added.

The SAPM said Ehsaas welfare programme, one of the achievements of the PTI government, was an ambitious social safety and poverty alleviation programme.

The report said during the last one year, the Board of Investment approved establishment of the first special economic zone under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Rashakai, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, five zones in Punjab, two in Balochistan and one in Sindh.

The report said the government had allocated Rs12bn to agriculture sector as compared to just Rs1bn during 2018-19 to ensure food security and bring about prosperity among small farmers.

It said the Prime Minister’s Youth Skill Development Initiative and Kamyab Jawan Programme had been launched by allocating Rs10bn to each initiative.

According to the report, the Ten Billion Tsunami Tree Plantation Programme has been launched at a cost of Rs 7.5bn to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change. A number of initiatives have been undertaken to reform the power sector and make it self-sustaining.

The National Internal Security Committee and the National Intelligence Committee have been set up to assist the interior ministry in critical areas of internal security.

In line with the prime minister’s vision to attract investors and tourists, on-line and electronic visa regime has been introduced for citizens of 175 countries.

The report said the government had introduced the National Aviation Policy 2019. It also highlighted achievements of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination and steps to provide better health facilities to the people. According to the report, the benefit package for each enrolled family has been raised to Rs120,000 per year for secondary care treatment and premium amount increased to Rs 720,000 per family (previous Rs 600,000) per year for treatment of eight priority diseases.

Another major achievement is said to be International Monetary Fund programme under which the government will receive $6bn, which will support the balance of payment and strengthen the market confidence.

Remittances sent by Pakistanis living abroad surpassed the target of $21.2bn in 2019 as it increased by 9.68 per cent to $21.841bn. The major shares of remittances were from Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA, UK and Gulf countries.

Under the social protection programme, targeted poverty reduction interventions have been made through the Ehsaas programme, the BISP, Sehat Sahulat programme and expanding coverage of Waseela-i-Taleem programme.

According to the report, the scheme of five million houses will benefit 28 industries and hence generate sizeable employment. The Kamyab Jawan programme will provide Rs100bn low cost loans to youths to setup/expand business.

The Pakistan Railways, through special initiatives, managed to generate an additional revenue of Rs10bn that helped it reduce its annual deficit by Rs4 billion and absorb Rs6bn additional bill in respect of increasing cost of the fuel as well as of pay and pension bill.

Under the CPEC, Pakistan Railways signed a declaration with China for upgrade of 1,872km track on Karachi-Peshawar main line.

Under education ministry the National Curriculum Council was reconstituted with key focus on developing a uniform national curriculum in three phases.

In water division the government held groundbreaking ceremony of Mohmand Dam project and released Rs17bn to kickstart the project.

On foreign affairs front, the government engaged the world with confidence and clarity and pursued the vision of “peaceful neighbourhood” based on principles and core interests and Prime Minister Khan personally met several world leaders.

The government strengthened all weather strategic cooperative partnership with China marked by closer engagement and deeper convergence and concluded phase-II of the CPEC.

The foreign ministry forged stronger economic partnerships with Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar, yielding multi-billion dollar investments, budgetary support and deferred oil payments.

A new phase was launched in relations with the United States based on convergent interests and better appreciation of Pakistan’s role in the region. President Trump’s offer of mediation on Kashmir dispute is significant, according to the report.

The government also achieved positive re-engagement with Afghanistan at summit level, supported peace process as shared responsibility and continued reconstruction assistance.

The religious ministry, through intervention of the prime minister, was able to get Pakistan’s Hajj quota increased from previous 184,210 pilgrims to 200,000. It introduced the Road to Makkah project under which immigration and customs facilitation to Haj pilgrims was provided at Islamabad airport. The ministry also introduced e-visa for Haj pilgrims for the first time.

The government intends to create 10 million jobs and ensure seven per cent growth rate by 2023, the report says.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2019