ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said Pakistan is sitting on hundreds of billions of rupees in “dead capital” in the form of state land and rest houses and official residences built on that land.
He said as much as 51,494 kanals of the state-owned land in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and federal areas were in occupation by official residences and rest houses.
In a series of tweets, the prime minister said he had received 90 percent of the statistical data of the state-owned land and the figures were just “startling”.
“The figures are startling: 34,459 kanals are rural and 17,035 kanals are urban. Just the urban land with buildings is worth over Rs300 billion,” he tweeted.
“So a country that has to borrow money to pay interest on its loans is sitting on huge amounts of dead capital,” he regretted.
The loans that the country has been taking are burdening its future generations, Khan said, noting that the daily interest liability is a whopping Rs5 billon.
The premier’s statement comes amid an austerity drive undertaken by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led government to try and cut down on expenditures.
At a meeting of the newly formed Economic Advisory Council (EAC) last week, radical steps were discussed to curb imports, including a year-long ban on imports for cheese, cars, mobile phones and fruit that could “save some $4-5 billion”, according to Ashfaque Hasan Khan, who is one of more than a dozen EAC members.
Prime Minister Imran Khan emphasising the urgency of building Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams on Monday said he might supervise the dams project himself.
He said this during a meeting with Chairman Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Lt-Gen (r) Muzammil Hussain here at the Prime Minister Office.
“Met Chairman Wapda today & emphasised urgency of building the Diamer Bhasha & Mohmand dams. I may supervise dams project myself, given the urgency,” Imran tweeted after the meeting.
He pointed out that Pakistan had a total water outflow of 145 million acre feet, of which 80 percent was in three months and only 20 percent was in rest of the nine months (of the year).
In a subsequent tweet, the prime minister said Pakistan had only 185 dams – and only 2 large ones, in contrast India had 5,000 dams and China had 84,000 dams including 4,000 large ones. “We need to avert the looming water crisis confronting Pakistan,” the prime minister maintained.
A press release issued by the PM Media Office here said, Wapda chairman briefed the prime minister about water situation in the country and future development of water and hydropower sectors.
The prime minister underlined the need for construction of dams for not only conservation of water resources in the country but also for adding low-cost hydel electricity to the national grid.
Terming the construction of Diamer Bhasha and Mohmand dams critical for the country, the prime minister reiterated his resolve to spearhead the campaign for construction of the two vital water reservoirs as soon as possible.
5 million houses plan
The prime minister on Monday gave a two-week deadline to the Ministry of Housing to finalise a comprehensive plan for early roll out of the ambitious plan for the construction of five million low-cost houses.
Chairing a meeting here at the PM Office to review progress on the project, promised by the party in its election manifesto, Imran Khan said he would personally look after the initiative to ensure smooth implementation of the project and removal of any administrative bottlenecks.
He asked the committee for finalisation of its recommendations and formulation of a plan of action with definite time-lines for the launch of the ambitious housing program.
The prime minister had setup the committee last week, under the Secretary Housing and Works to study international models and to come up with a road-map, in consultation with experts and representatives of concerned departments.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said low-cost housing with all basic facilities and regularisation of slums was the foremost priority of his government.
He said construction of affordable housing initiative would not only provide shelter to the homeless but would generate a huge economic activity by creating millions of jobs and boosting allied industries.
Housing Secretary briefed the PM about the present situation regarding the annual demand and shortfall of the housing sector.
He also identified various options regarding availability of land bank, raising of required finances through different sources and undertaking administrative and legal measures to encourage private sector and the foreign investors to undertake the initiative of construction of five million houses.
The prime minister said that besides the availability of vast state lands across the country, utilisation of prime land of the state guest houses and other government owned accommodation and properties in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alone could generate billions of rupees for the Housing Scheme.
He directed the committee to finalize recommendations and come up with a comprehensive plan of action for early roll out of the program.
We’re sitting on ‘dead capital’ worth billions: PM