Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said the new year will be a year of economic growth for Pakistan, adding that the country was already moving in the right direction with essential industries increasing output.
Speaking at an event in Islamabad, the prime minister said the construction industry was already on its way up, which was evident from rising cement sales in the country.
"When cement sales are increasing it is a clear sign that construction activity is on the rise," he said.
PM Imran said the textile industry was "producing at capacity for the first time in many years" which he said had given rise to a shortage of labour in the sector.
The premier said these signs were indicating that the country was in the right direction and that Pakistan was the only nation in the subcontinent that had seen the "fastest recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic".
"Our exports are increasing as compared to our competitors, so Pakistan is headed in the right direction."
He added that the government's policy for the new year was very "simple".
"We have to make business-friendly policies. We have to help our industry, that has been previously neglected, and have to incentivise it. The wealth that will be subsequently generated will be used to eradicate poverty," he said.
The premier explained that his two targets for the new year were expanding the government's universal health coverage initiative and introducing a new programme to tackle hunger.
He said that he envisioned universal health coverage for Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan by the year's end. "Each household will have the ability to avail medical treatment through the health insurance card. This is a massive challenge, even rich countries do not have such a system."
PM Imran added that he will launch a new programme, under the government's Ehsaas initiative, to make sure that no one in the country sleeps hungry.
"We will use information technology and will identify areas where this is most prevalent and will involve the whole country, including non-government organisations." He added that the programme, which is under development, will most likely be "unfolded" by the year's end.
The prime minister reiterated these sentiments after his speech. Taking to Twitter, he said: "Last year was a tough year for us and for people across the world because of Covid-19. But by the grace of God we fared far better than most. We not only managed to protect our people, but also saved them from hunger."
"My new rear resolutions for 2021 are to complete two projects. One, universal health coverage to all our citizens. It has begun in KP and will soon begin in Punjab & GB. We hope other provinces will replicate this programme.
"Two, we will start our most ambitious nationwide project 'Koi Bhuka Na Soyay' under Ehsaas programme. By the end of the year, these 2 projects will move us closer to our goal of making Pakistan a welfare state."
'China key ally for industrialisation'
At the start of his speech, PM Imran said that if Pakistan wanted to move towards industrialisation, then China was the country's biggest ally.
"China is the country we can learn the most from because their development model suits us the best. Pakistan can learn the most from the way and the speed with which China has developed in the past 35 years."
The way they industrialised, made special export zones, brought investments from abroad, and used those investments to increase their exports, all resulted in China increasing its wealth, he said.
"They used that money to bring their population out of of poverty [...] there is no other example of this in history." He added that the current government was focused on making Pakistan a welfare state and on eradicating poverty.
He added that the government had made special economic zones in an effort to attract and relocate Chinese industries so that they can export their products from Pakistan.
"Our biggest problem is that we did not try to increase our exports in the past. Why do we have to go to the International Monetary Fund? Because our exports fall and our imports rise [...] we have to squeeze our economy which makes life difficult for the common man."
Commenting on the agriculture sector, the premier said the government was also working with the Chinese on seed development and improving productivity.