ISLAMABAD: While admitting that price hike has hit the salaried class the most, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said Pakistan is heading in the right direction, something that has been acknowledged by international financial data providers.
“The future of the country has been set in the right direction as indicated by Bloomberg, which acknowledged that Pakistan’s economy has been put on the high trajectory,” said PM Khan while addressing the inauguration ceremony of a housing project on Kurri Road on Tuesday.
The project, the Pakistan Housing Authority (PHA) Officers’ Residencia, was conceived in 2008 on 90 acres of land provided by the Capital Development Authority, Islamabad.
While referring to the global price hike caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the prime minister said the World Bank’s report had confirmed Pakistan’s growth rate at 5.37 per cent. He said due to boom in the construction industry about 40 to 60pc increase was witnessed in the income of labour class. Due to five record bumper crops, he said, farmers earned Rs1,400 billion last year.
Calls for optimal use of Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement
The prime minister also mentioned increase in exports, record remittances and tax collection in the country. The World Bank report on four indicators showed that poverty had been reduced in the country, he claimed, reiterating that the construction industry had not been shut down despite the pandemic.
He said the government was facilitating construction of affordable housing units for the salaried and low-income groups through provision of subsidies and waiver of interest rates on house financing.
He praised the ministry of housing for completing the decades-old stalled housing projects for government employees within a short period of three years. He also highlighted the need to ensure timely completion of 88,000 more housing units.
With the total cost of Rs6.5bn, the project launched for the federal government employees comprises 588 grey-structure housing units in three categories besides 88 commercial units and community centre.
Mr Khan said the construction industry was the driving force of the country’s economy. When it thrived, about 30 more allied industries would also make progress, he explained, adding that Pakistan’s construction industry boomed with record cement and steel sales during the last two years.
The prime minister said completion of housing projects for government servants had great significance, as they could not afford to purchase or build houses. He said there was shortage of housing units in Pakistan. In the past, people did not have the option to seek loans from private banks for the construction of homes on easy installments due to the pending foreclosure law before courts. He said the court decision facilitated the procedure for seeking bank credits.
For the first time in country’s history, housing projects worth Rs124bn through bank loans had been approved and a loan of Rs40bn had already been released by banks, he said.
The banking mortgage law would enable the people to divert the rent of their rented houses to pay easy installments for the construction of their residences, he added.
Unlike mortgage financing in the US and Europe that stood at about 80pc, the prime minister said it was less than 1pc of the GDP in Pakistan.
He admitted that price hike had hit the salaried class hard. It was his cherished dream to enable the low-income groups and salaried class to get their houses on affordable prices, he said.
Sri Lankan delegation
In a separate development, Minister of Trade of Sri Lanka Dr Bandula Gunawardhana and State Minister for Regional Cooperation Tharaka Balasuriya paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Khan, reported APP.
The two ministers along with a business delegation from Sri Lanka are currently visiting Pakistan, according to PM Office.
Mr Khan reaffirmed the strong fraternal relations between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and highlighted the importance of regular high-level exchanges in strengthening bilateral cooperation. He emphasised all-out efforts must be made to increase bilateral trade relations through making optimal use of the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement.
Referring to the strong cultural bond between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the prime minister invited the attention of the visiting delegation to the rich Buddhist heritage of Pakistan, and expressed the hope that more Sri Lankans would come to the country for religious tourism.
Dr Gunawardhana thanked the premier for extending warm hospitality and goodwill towards Sri Lanka. He expressed keen desire to expand cooperation with Pakistan in diverse areas of trade, information communication and technology, pharmaceuticals, minerals, textiles, education, defence, tourism, human resource development through B2B contacts, joint ventures, investments in high potential sectors and technology transfers etc.
Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2022