PM says govt’s next target is economic growth

Dec 28 2019

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PRIME Minister Imran Khan addressing a Pakistan Stock Exchange function at Governor House on Friday.—APP
PRIME Minister Imran Khan addressing a Pakistan Stock Exchange function at Governor House on Friday.—APP

KARACHI: While expressing the government resolve to focus on the promotion of investment, Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced that 2020 will be the year of growth for Pakistan as the business community has an important role in the country’s progress.

Speaking at the Pakistan Stock Exchange Top 25 Companies Awards ceremony here on Friday, the premier said that after attaining economic stability the next target would be to increase the growth rate by providing facilities to small- and medium-size businesses.

Another focus of his government was the promotion of tourism industry, he said, adding that a US-based magazine had listed Pakistan as one of the world’s top travel destinations. He said the rapidly growing tourism industry would bring foreign exchange with influx of tourists.

“Local tourism in the country has increased so much that tourists cannot even find a hotel to stay sometimes. We need to focus and plan on boosting this sector in the upcoming years. Nine million Pakistanis living abroad now want to come to their homeland for tourism during the vacation.

Imran claims economic stability has been achieved

“We can also counter Islamophobia through tourism,” the PM observed.

Referring to his concept of the state of Madina, Mr Khan said it had been established on the golden principle of humanity and justice. In the modern world, he said, the nations attained prosperity by practising this principle. “We can also attain prominent stature in the world by following the principle of justice and humanity.”

He said Pakistan was founded on the basis of the same principles on which the state of Madina had been established. By following these principles, the business community could also play an important role to put the country on road to progress, he added.

The prime minister claimed that his party came to power in extremely difficult circumstances but the PTI government had overcome many obstacles over the past one year.

PM Khan said he would keep reminding the people about previous governments because he did not get a stable economy and the government was trying its best to overcome economic problems.

He praised the efforts of his adviser on finance and revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to revive the economy. “A crucial problem was that the current account was in deficit, foreign exchange reserves had depleted, there were no dollars, there were debts worth Rs10 billion to be repaid, and a serious risk of the country defaulting,” he recalled.

“We had to take some hard steps so that the country wouldn’t default. All those who understand this issue know what would have happened [in case of a default] and we have seen that happening in the Latin American countries and Lebanon. Thank God that the rupee has become stable [and] the investor confidence returned,” Mr Khan explained.

While talking to a business delegation, the PM said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government wanted private sector collaboration in development projects. This way, he added, economic progress along with public welfare would be ensured.

The prime minister announced that job opportunities would be created in the country and poverty alleviation would be made possible only when investors would work in partnership with the government, according to a press release issued on Friday.

“The country can make real progress only when the private sector will make investment. For this reason, the government has taken steps to facilitate business. Pakistan has jumped 28 points up on ease of doing business index [of World Bank],” he said, adding that World Bank and institutions such as Moody’s had acknowledged this progress.

The delegation comprised American Business Council of Pakistan president Adnan Asad, Pakistan Business Council (PBC) chairman Yawar Ali, PBC CEO Ahsan Malik, Siraj Kassam Teli, Agha Shahab, Arif Habib, Mirza Iftikhar Baig, Khalid Masood, Zahid Syed and others, while the PM was accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda, Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Zaidi, Adviser to PM on Economic Affairs Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Commerce Adviser Razak Dawood, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, State Bank Governor Reza Baqir and senior officials.

Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2019