LAHORE - Speakers at the Punjab Economic Forum 2017 have consensus that Pakistan has huge potential for economic development and progress despite the fact it braved many challenges posed by internal and external elements.

The speakers in the opening session of Forum, presided over by Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, observed political and institutional stability as vital ingredient for economic uplift. They pointed out the hurdles and challenges being faced by economic progress and extended proposals regarded economic growth despite all that.

Besides Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, former Governor State Bank Dr Ishrat Hussain and other related experts also addressed the forum.

The chief minister in his address said the disgusting role played with the country during last 70 years by the elite is in front of everyone. The three martial laws imposed ruined the country while politicians had also committed mistakes in the past, he added. Corruption, incompetency and professional turpitude damaged the country massively. We should learn from the mistakes and move forward, instead of creating more distress for already worried nation, he added.

He said that we should work to provide relief to the people and for this purpose; we should adopt the principles of honesty, dedication and handwork.

“The nations lagging behind us have now moved far ahead which is lamentable for us. Pakistani is really hardworking, brave and determined nation. Here we have qualified professionals in every field. Let’s analyze our mistakes of the past and learn from them and work for better future of Pakistan to bring it on international paradigm and try to make it a stable and steady nation.”

He said, before 1979, per capital income in Pakistan was more than china and Pakistan was ahead of China economically. He said that now China has become the biggest economic power of the world while Bangladesh is also ahead of us. Pakistan can still move ahead despite all the happenings in the past.

We need to take wise decisions he said while highlighting the development projects the PML-N government has started to overcome electricity shortage and bring prosperity to the life of a layman. He also dilated upon the government successful efforts to save billions of rupees of the nation in the energy and transport projects.

The chief minister said that on one hand these are splendid examples of saving national resources but on the other hand, Rs80 billion were saved from corruption in Saaf Pani Programme. He said that cost of Neelam Jhelum Power Project, initiated during the Musharraf era, has increased from 80 million dollar to five billion dollars but the project is still incomplete. He said that on one side is Transparent Pakistan of today while on the other hand is Corrupt Pakistan of the past.

He said that the elite of the country is responsible for harming national exchequer as looted national resources ruthlessly and hollowed the foundation of the country through corruption. He said that in 2007, when elections were near then dictator Musharraf, raising slogan of Pakistan First deceived the nation by laying the foundation stone of Diamir Basha Dam and 4000 MW electricity was to be generated through this project but the dictator made fraud with the nation by laying the foundation stone without acquiring land neglecting the importance of the project.

The chief minister said that government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has now purchased land for this project by paying Rs66 billion. Similarly, during the dictator era, the contract of exploring iron ore reserves of Chiniot was given to a fake company without tendering which had no experience, he added. He said that we have got 100 percent estimate of Chiniot reserves and billions of rupees annually can be earned through export without utilising iron ore. He said that the wealth discovered in Balochistan has to be utilised for the progress and prosperity of the country but unfortunately Reko Diq project was also ruined through corruption, inefficiency and negligence.

He said that today’s economic forum is of paramount importance and from this platform solid suggestions and recommendations will come fore for making country economically strong, standing Pakistan on its own feet, breaking begging bowl and ensuring prosperity of the people, in the light of which, steps will be taken for improving the economy.

Former Governor State Bank and renowned economist, Dr Ishrat Hussain while speaking on the occasion said that he is greatly impressed by the leadership of Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his economic policies and reforms programme are appreciable. He said that our problems can be resolved if we have leaders like Shehbaz Sharif.

Highlighting economic growth and economic situation of the country, he said that only strong political and economic institutions can speed up the process of development.  Provincial Minister for Planning & Development Malik Nadeem Kamran while presenting address of welcome termed Punjab Economic Forum as a milestone with regard to socio-economic development of the province.

Chairman Planning & Development Jehanzeb Khan highlighted the aims and objectives of Punjab Economic Forum. Economist Prof Dr Sohail Jehangir talked about problems and challenges faced by economy and pace of economic progress of the country.

Provincial Ministers, Members National and Provincial Assembly, researchers, industrialists, traders, male and female students of economics participated in the forum in large numbers.