PM vows to provide health cover, food security to citizens

Published January 2, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan having a meal with residents of Panahgah in Tarnol on Friday.—APP
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan having a meal with residents of Panahgah in Tarnol on Friday.—APP

• Inaugurates automobile manufacturing unit
• Hopes Chinese industry relocates to Pakistan
• Says new year to see business-friendly policies

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said 2021 would be the year of progress and growth and expressed his determination to provide health insurance and food security to the people of Pakistan.

“2021 will be the year of economic growth during which Pakistan will flourish while benefiting from its experience in confronting various challenges. The construction and textile industries are booming despite the negative impact of Covid-19; Pakistan is the only country in the subcontinent that recovered rapidly from the impact of coronavirus,” the prime minister said while speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony of a $100 million Chinese automobile manufacturing unit.

Besides the assembly unit, MG Motors Company will also start local production by mid-2021. In the first phase, it will launch three SUVs, MG-HS, MG-ZS 1.5 and MG ZS EV, a fully electric vehicle.

“The new year will witness business-friendly policies and incentives for industries for wealth creation and to end poverty,” the prime minister said, adding: “Two of my major targets in 2021 are universal health coverage under which health insurance will be provided to each and every household — something which even the United States cannot do — and second is to identify persons facing hunger or food insecurity through the use of information technology, Ehsaas programme and NGOs.”

Mr Khan said China was Pakistan’s biggest ally in industrialisation and supporting the country in achieving its goals of economic prosperity. “Pakistan can learn a great deal from China as its economic model best suits the country,” he added.

He said China developed its industry, created economic trade zones and attracted foreign investment to generate wealth, which it ultimately used for poverty alleviation and brought 700 million of its population out of poverty in around 35 years, which had no other example in the world.

He said Pakistan too was pursuing a similar vision in which real development was uplifting the poor.

PM Khan said it was his desire that the Chinese industry relocated to Pakistan from where products could be further exported. He regretted that over the past 50 years Pakistan had failed to increase its exports, adding that the present government was consulting with the Chinese government on ways to enhance exports.

Pakistan, he said, was also working with Beijing in agriculture, particularly seed development and productivity increase, adding that the agriculture sector would figure prominently in the next phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Referring to the contract for manufacturing MG vehicles in Pakistan, the prime minister said the ripple effects of foreign direct investment would reach out to the connected industries and generate employment. “Pakistan would continue to carry out joint ventures with Chinese companies in all areas,” he added.

The prime minister said the government had to focus its entire energy on revitalising the national economy in its first year of power, while in the second year it was confronted with the challenge of tackling Covid-19. However, he said, the way the government navigated through the challenge was duly acknowledged by the World Health Organisation.

The prime minister appreciated the efforts of his special assistant Dr Sania Nishtar in this regard. He also lauded industrialists Faisal Afridi and Javed Afridi for their efforts to bring in the third investment project with Chinese entrepreneurs in Pakistan.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar said that despite Covid-19, Pakistan saw economic growth due to its industrial activity. He said the current account was in surplus after 17 years while the government had managed to successfully curtail its expenditures, adding that there had been a 100 per cent increase in refunds, compared to the previous year.

The minister said the industrial relief package on electricity, setting up of a mobile phone manufacturing plant and incentives for the automobile industry were some key factors that would contribute to a stronger economy.

Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong said his country would boost investment in Pakistan. He said CPEC would be a great game changer and lead to extensive economic activity as well as create employment opportunities in diverse areas.

Meanwhile, Mr Khan said his new year resolutions were provision of universal health coverage to all citizens and launching a nationwide project to eradicate hunger.

“My New Year resolution for 2021 is to complete two projects. One, universal health coverage to all our citizens… Two, we will start our most ambitious nationwide project ‘Koi Bhuka Na Soyay’ (No one should sleep hungry in Pakistan),” the prime minister said in a series of tweets.

Published in Dawn, January 2nd, 2021

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