• Lays foundation stone of 4,000 low-cost flats
• Pins hope on Ravi, Bundal projects for investment
• Terms youths of D-8 countries key asset
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said several initiatives had been taken for wealth creation so that Pakistan could get rid of heavy foreign debts his government had inherited from previous ones. He was hopeful that the measures being introduced would bring about prosperity in the country.
“We want to create more and more wealth in the country to retire heavy foreign loans, some of which are causing even more debts,” the prime minister said while laying the foundation stone of 4,000 low-cost apartments being built under the government’s ambitious Naya Pakistan Housing Programme (NPHP) at Farash Town near Islamabad.
He said the incentives announced by the government for the construction industry would not only ensure economic activity with the running of 30 affiliated industries but also generate job opportunities.
PM Khan expressed the confidence that the development of Lahore’s Ravi Urban Project and Central Business District and Sindh’s Bundal Island would attract foreign investment.
“[In addition to revival of the construction industry], the textile industry witnessed a boom with operationalisation of power looms, leading to an increase in demand for workers,” he pointed out.
Mr Khan noted that the construction of two big dams after a gap of five decades would ensure cheap electricity and contribute to enhanced productivity of industries.
He said completion of Main Line-1 rail track would reduce the travel time between Lahore and Karachi to eight hours, adding it would also benefit the freight movement as a factor of ease-of-doing business.
PM Khan said that within two years people would be able to move into the houses with ownership rights.
He expressed satisfaction that negotiations held by the government with banks, the Federal Bureau of Revenue and other bodies had resulted in the conclusion of an agreement on mortgage financing as the key factor in materialisation of the housing project.
He held out the assurance that some remaining impediments in the way of acquiring bank loans would be sorted out and the procedure would be simplified.
He announced that out of 4,000 apartments, 600 would be offered to slum dwellers; 2,000 would be allotted to those who had registered themselves under the NPHP, while 1,600 flats would be sold out by the Capital Development Authority (CDA).
Prime Minister Khan witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding among the Naya Pakistan Housing Development Authority, CDA and Frontier Works Organisation, which will jointly carry out the project.
The PM was apprised that the total engineering, procurement and construction cost of the project was Rs15.184 billion.
The complex would have apartments of two sizes built on 99 blocks. Each block would have 40 flats. The apartments of 650 sq feet would cost Rs2.423 million, while a 760 sq ft unit would cost Rs2.985m.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed announced that in the upcoming Media City, 600 flats would be provided to the journalists of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. He said journalists pay installments for the flats.
Meanwhile, the prime minister while addressing the 10th summit of the Developing Eight Organisation for Economic Cooperation said that there was a defining moment for the world because of the interconnectedness and the socioeconomic and environmental vulnerabilities created by it
The summit, held virtually, was hosted by Bangladesh while heads of state and government from Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey participated in it.
Prime Minister Khan described the youthful population of D-8 countries as a key asset.
The theme of the summit was “Partnership for a transformative world: harnessing the power of youth and technology”.
Highlighting the health and economic challenges posed by the Covid-19, Mr Khan said peculiar socioeconomic impacts had disproportionately harmed the developing nations.
He underlined the need for creating opportunities for the youth by harnessing technology, promoting innovation, and investing in youth education, skills and training.
The prime minister highlighted various initiatives and programmes undertaken by the PTI government aimed at empowering the youths like Kamyab Jawan, Hunarmand Pakistan, Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme and Digital Pakistan.
He said rapid advancement in science and technology had triggered exponential changes in the world and information and technology breakthroughs were fast transforming science fiction of yesterday into today’s reality.
As part of endeavours to realise the vision of D-8 in these testing times, Mr Khan presented several proposals at the summit.
The summit adopted the Dhaka Declaration 2021 and the Decennial Roadmap 2020-2030. The declaration, inter alia, applauded the prominent role of the government of Pakistan in strongly advocating priority redressal of the peculiar challenges faced by developing countries due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Prime Minister Khan’s call for a Global Initiative on Debt Relief for developing countries.
The summit approved pre-feasibility studies of four project proposals under D-8 Project Support Fund, including two from Pakistan-related to safe drinking water and climate adaptations in agriculture.
Iftikhar A. Khan in Islamabad also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2021