LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that war against political and profiteering mafia is going on to ensure supremacy of the rule of law, as it serves as a defining moment to transform the country into a corruption-free and independent society.

“We have the determination to break the status quo of the system plagued with corruption and uncalled-for delays that push people to pay for their genuine work in government establishments,” the prime minister asserted while speaking at a ceremony here on Friday.

“The UNDP’s latest report says the war-torn Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the one province in Pakistan that overcame poverty during the past six years,” Mr Khan said, claiming that it was for this reason his party Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) regained power in KP in 2018 elections.

Every family in KP had received health insurance and they could avail healthcare services at all public sector and nominated private health facilities, the prime minister claimed, adding that through such social welfare projects the government was fast leading the country towards the ‘State of Madina’ model.

Sees Pakistan close to becoming a welfare state

“Pakistan is on the verge of becoming a welfare state,” Mr Khan said, adding that his government established shelter homes to offer food and shelter to labourers so that they could send their earnings to their families back home. He announced that the government would launch another service titled ‘No one should sleep hungry’ next Sunday under which mobile kitchens would visit shanties and slums to offer food to the destitute.

The government would collect ‘complete data’ of the poor by the end of June to offer direct subsidy to them in their relevant fields with complete transparency as demonstrated in the Ehsaas programme, wherein cash was provided to 15 million families during the first wave of coronavirus pandemic.

While addressing the gathering at the groundbreaking ceremony of Naya Pakistan apartments in the LDA City project and distribution of allocation letters among applicants, the prime minister said the government had been able to offer allocation letters to the applicants after a long struggle including getting foreclosure law passed from courts that opened up a window of mortgage financing by private banks. He pointed out that mortgage financing was serving some 80 per cent population in the Western countries, while in Pakistan it stood at just 0.2 per cent. “Now people could own a house by paying bank installments equal to the rent they pay,” he said.

While lauding the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) team led by its vice chairman Imran Munir for automation of the entity, Mr Khan said there was always a strong resistance against automation from those fleecing the masses.

He particularly praised retired lieutenant general Anwar Ali-led team of Naya Pakistan Housing for removing hurdles in the construction sector that also propelled economic growth in 30 attached industries. He said the phenomenal sale of cement showed that industries were working, generating employment and boosting economic growth rate and wealth creation. He also lauded Bank of Punjab President Zafar Masud.

Speaking on the occasion, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said under the LDA housing scheme, some 35,000 flats would be built, beginning with 4,000 flats in the first phase. He said 2,000 flats had been reserved for general public and the remaining 2,000 for the employees of the LDA, Punjab and federal governments having a monthly income up to Rs50,000. He said the applicants would be required to make only 10pc down payment and pay installments in five to 20 years.

He said the Punjab government had also identified 133 spots to establish peri-urban low-cost housing projects in tehsils across the province. In the first phase, 10,000 houses would be constructed in 32 tehsils, where ‘costly land’ would be offered at the rate of Rs30,000 per three marla. He said the government would be offering Rs300,000 subsidy and loan on far less mark-up. The Punjab cabinet, he said, had approved Rs3bn for the construction of infrastructure.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2021

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