LAHORE - President Asif Ali Zardari Saturday called for broad-based political consensus on national economic policies for continuity of policies regardless of which government was in power.

The President said this during meeting with the businessmen and entrepreneurs belonging to various sectors including textile, banking, engineering, chemical, fertilizers, cement, tractors, construction and others at the Governor House Lahore on Saturday. He said that after having achieved consensus on political reforms it was time to work towards consensus on economic reforms, as we cannot afford politicization of economic policies of the country.

Briefing about the meeting, spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the President commended the business community for the persistent good performance and achieving record export performance despite the various challenges on internal and external fronts including the problems of militancy and law and order, power shortages, global economic slowdown and the reluctance of foreign investors to visit Pakistan.

The President, while commenting on the hard economic situation and difficult conditions the government inherited, said that the country was facing numerous challenges from both within and outside our borders. He said that Pakistan was wheat exporting country but the lack of continuity in economic policies put the country in difficult conditions, resulting in huge energy shortage besides creating the issue of circular debt for the present government.

The President said that the present government has consulted and will continue to take on board the business community of the country in all major economic decisions, such as the Federal Budget and trade policy matters as the government believes that the input of business community is very important in devising policy that is business-friendly as well as productive .

The President said that the government economic policies were mainly aimed at job creation for youth, improving investment climate and resolving energy issues.  The spokesperson said that the President while commenting on current power and energy crises in the country said that the government was fully alive to the issue and that the resolution of the energy crisis is certainly on a high priority for the government. 

He said that the government is busy in undertaking measures both short and long term for easing the energy crises which includes the injection of more hydro power into the system through construction of small, medium and large dams in various parts of the country, wind, solar and biomass energy projects besides the import of natural gas from the neighbouring countries. He said that multinationals and Pakistani joint ventures were now undertaking projects to produce electricity at Thar and the government is also expecting construction of 11 wind power projects to begin shortly.

The spokesperson said that the President in reply to a question regarding loadshedding, advised the government to consider exemption of express feeders of industries in Lahore region from loadshedding. He directed the Water and Power Minister Syed Naveed Qamar, who was also present in the meeting, to take steps in this regard.

Governor Punjab Sardar Latif Khosa ,Syed Naveed Qamar, Makhdoom Shahabuddin, Minister for Textile Industries, Dr Asim Hussain, Minister for Petroleum, PPP Punjab President , Imtiaz Safdar Waraich Ms Fouzia Wahab, Ms Rukhsana Bangash, Ms Fouzia Habib and spokesperson to the President senator Farhatullah Babar were also present during the meeting.