Industrialisation, tourism vital for debt retirement: PM Imran

Published September 3, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the groundbreaking ceremony of Sambrial-Kharian Motorway in Islamabad on Thursday. — Photo courtesy PID website
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the groundbreaking ceremony of Sambrial-Kharian Motorway in Islamabad on Thursday. — Photo courtesy PID website

• Says additional 100km stretch of M-2 Motorway cost burden on economy
• SCBA delegation meets Imran

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that industrialisation as well as promotion of tourism are inevitable to repay debts by boosting exports and wealth creation.

Addressing the groundbreaking ceremony of Sambrial-Kharian Motorway here on Thursday, he said the project would facilitate the industrial triangle of Gujranwala-Wazirabad-Sialkot which was also a densely population region.

Minister for Communications Murad Saeed, Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry, PM’s special assistant Usman Dar and National Highway Authority (NHA) chairman retired Captain Khurram Agha were also present on the occasion.

The prime minister, who earlier unveiled the plaque to break ground for the 69-kilometre motorway, said the area had immense potential for industrialisation and, therefore, it was direly needed to incentivise the industrial sector to bring about a boom in exports and increase revenue.

He said the government was committed to facilitating small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by easing their approval processes, and assured the NHA of support for swift approval of public-private partnership projects.

The Rs32 billion Sambrial-Kharian Motorway would beget around 4,300 jobs and cater to around 23,000 vehicles per day. The initial four-lane motorway would consist of five interchanges at Jalalpur Jattan, Pero Shah, Daulat Nagar, Galyana and Kharian.

The prime minister said SMEs were the backbone of the national economy but unfortunately they had to face impediments for their approval processes.

The construction of the Sambrial-Kharian Motorway, which would later be extended to Rawalpindi, would shorten distance between Lahore and Islamabad by 100km, compared to the existing M-2 Motorway.

PM Khan said that additional 100km stretch of the M-2 Motorway was beyond consumption as it cost additional burden on economy in the form of imported fuel, besides maintenance cost of vehicles during the last 20 years. He said the public-private partnership mode would help save development fund which would be spent on other public welfare projects.

The prime minister also appreciated saving of Rs12bn (26 per cent of the project cost) through negotiations. He said every project must be designed in accordance with its benefits for the people.

Lauding the PTI government’s project of Swat Motorway, the prime minister said that because of this project around 2.7 million people had visited the area during Eid days. He said the country could generate huge revenue through prudent policies like promotion of tourism considering the country’s huge potential.

Mr Khan said that so far the country was looking at domestic tourism but once the road between Swat and Gilgit would be constructed it would attract foreign tourists, thus bringing foreign exchange. He said tourism could fill the dollar gap until country’s exports reached the desired level.

The prime minister appreciated the communications minister and the NHA for executing numerous projects within record time, even more than those who used to beg votes claiming credit of roads construction.

Communications Minister Murad Saeed told the gathering that it was the first motorway of north Punjab. After approval by the Central Development Working Party, the second phase would also be launched from Kharian to Rawalpindi this year.

Drawing a comparison between the PML-N and PTI governments’ performance during the first three years, the minister said the latter had constructed 1,753km roads, compared 645km roads by the former. He said the PTI planned 6,118km roads against just 858km by the PML-N.

During the incumbent government regime, the NHA also increased its revenue by Rs87 billion. Murad Saeed said the NHA had completed 29 projects this year and was also set to launch repair of around 4,000km roads soon.

NHA Chairman Khurram Agha said the NHA had saved Rs12bn by bargaining the motorway project’s cost from initial Rs43bn to Rs32bn. Later, he added, Frontier Works Organisation, the contractor, also gave a voluntary concession of Rs1bn.

One window portal

Prime Minister Khan directed the authorities concerned to launch a one-window portal for local and foreign investors.

Chairing a meeting held to discuss enhancement of investment in special economic zones, he also called for consultation and coordination among all stakeholders on the portal. He said the government was actively working to remove all impediments faced by the local and foreign investors in order to achieve industrial growth.

The meeting was informed that a one-window portal was being developed by the Board of Investment to address the difficulties faced by the investors. The portal would not only assist in obtaining the administrative and legal approvals but also help in provision of facilities to the industrial sector.

It was informed that the relevant departments would be added to the portal in two phases, besides the federal and provincial departments. A comprehensive strategy has also been formulated to establish one-window services. The portal would also introduce paperwork as well as digital approvals.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Khan said the filling of Tarbela Dam to its maximum level despite unfavourable weather conditions this year was a good omen for agriculture and hydel power generation.

“Alhamdulillah, Tarbela Dam filled to its max level yesterday despite unfavourable weather conditions this year. This is a good omen for agriculture & hydel generation,” he twitted.

He also appreciated teams at the Water and Power Development Authority and the Indus River System Authority for improved water regulation.

Legal fraternity

Prime Minister Imran Khan said services of lawyers’ organisations were invaluable in promoting and strengthening democracy. He said a society developed only where rule of law prevailed and prosperity could only be achieved with systems based on justice and fairness.

Talking to members of the Executive Committee of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) who called on him, PM Khan said that in the past vested interests misused law and the rich and powerful class remained free from the grip of law whereas the weaker classes continued to be exploited through the misuse of law.

He emphasised that the present government was reforming civil and criminal laws so that relief could be provided to the common man. He said legal reforms would reduce case load on courts, adding that support of lawyers’ representative bodies was required in the government’s agenda of legal reform.

He said the government was cognisant of the problems being faced by lawyers and every effort would be made to solve these.

The prime minister ordered immediate removal of hurdles in the way of establishment of a housing colony for lawyers, inclusion of lawyers in Naya Pakistan housing programme, provision of health cards and inclusion of young lawyers in Kamyab Pakistan programme. He also directed the law minister to ensure regular liaison with the bar associations and resolve issues relating to grants on a priority basis.

Members of the SCBA Executive Committee endorsed the government’s legal reform agenda and presented proposals for further improvement in the legal reforms process.

Federal ministers Fawad Chaudhry and Dr Farogh Naseem, PM’s special assistant Shahbaz Gill and Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan were present during the meeting.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2021

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