FAISALABAD            -          Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday reiterated that the country’s riddance of poverty was only possible by doing away with the anti-investor mindset and promoting the wealth creation through industrialisation.

Addressing the groundbreaking ceremony of Allama Iqbal Industrial City of Faisalabad being established under China Pakistan Economic Corridor, Imran said Pakistan would follow the successful Chinese model of allowing the wealth creation that had made the country steer its around 700 million people out of poverty within three decades.

Federal Planning Minister Asad Umar, Advisor to PM on Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Governor Ch Muhammad Sarwar and provincial ministers also attended the ceremony.

The project is one of nine Special Economic Zones planned under CPEC Industrial Cooperation Framework. Out of nine, three have been declared as Prioritized Special Economic Zones by the governments of Pakistan and China including Allama Iqbal Industrial City of Faisalabad, Rashakai SEZ in KP and Dhabajee SEZ in Sindh.

The project is expected to create 300,000 jobs for the people of Punjab in next five years and would attract approximately Rs400 billion investment in automobiles, value-added textiles, engineering, pharmaceuticals, food processing, chemicals, construction materials, FGCG and packaging sectors. Terming the establishment of first SEZ in Punjab a giant leap towards the accomplishment of his government’s vision to alleviate poverty through industrialisation, the prime minister said it would beget job opportunities for the youth who would also be skill-trained to cope with the future needs. He said industrialisation was inevitable as agriculture sector could not suffice the youth’s job needs.

He said the country had been going through industrialisation until 1960s when anti-investor mindset and policies were promoted which he said must be done away with. He said the industrialisation should follow the special focus on enhancement of exports, agricultural productivity and promotion of tourism to truly exploit the existing potential.

Imran who earlier unveiled the plaque to launch work on the project called for special focus on technical education to skill-train the youth to enhance their productivity and value addition.

Congratulating the Punjab government and allied federal and provincial departments for expediting the work on special economic zone, he said China was taking keen interest in Pakistan and like Vietnam Pakistan should create a conducive atmosphere to attract the Chinese industry looking for relocation.

He told the gathering that the Chinese companies were not only ready to invest in Pakistan but also willing to transfer technology to enhance productivity by establishing technical training institutes in the country.

He also asked the Punjab government to expedite working on other SEZs planned in the province and assured all-out support. He lauded the performance of new administrative machinery in Punjab and said the bureaucracy had been left with no excuse to perform after the federal government had amended the NAB ordinance to ebb away the procedural pressure from them.

He also appreciated the newly posted Punjab IGP Shoaib Dastgir for making a good start by arresting notorious robbers gangs from different cities who, he viewed, sometimes also enjoyed the patronage of some politicians. The prime minister hoped that the province would be purged of such criminals within next two to three months.

He also spoke high of the Punjab chief minister for being available to the people and leading a simple life that was also expected from a political leader of the country bearing the burden of foreign debts.

Earlier, Imran also criticised the political leaders for unnecessarily speaking English to the Pakistani audience at public gathering or even at the parliament where majority could not understand English properly. He viewed that English should be used in higher education but not as a tool of class distinction or to humiliate the poor people who could not speak or understand the language.

Earlier, Chief Minister Buzdar said the Punjab government had allocated Rs5 billion for the industrial city to be established over 3,217 acres. Spanned over stretch of around 22 kilometers, the city would also house a police station, labour colony, TEVTA Institute and a hospital which were nearing completion. Another industrial city was also being developed on Motorway M-3 over 4,500 acres and was expected to be inaugurated in March this year.

He said the Punjab government had planned 10 SEZs in the province with six of those had already been approved by the federal government and rest were in the pipeline.

PM inaugurates Panagah

Imran Khan also inaugurated a Panagah here to provide food and shelter to down and out people, in pursuance of his vision to leave no person roofless. He cut the ribbon to inaugurate the facility.

The inauguration of the shelter home was in pursuance of the Punjab government’s decision to expand the facility across all 36 districts of Punjab, as per PM’s directives. Imran visited various parts of the building and reviewed the facilities being provided there. He also interacted with the people staying at the facility and also joined them on lunch.