LAHORE-Adviser to Punjab Chief Minister on Economic Affairs and Planning Dr Salman Shah has said that Pakistan has all resources to become hub of economic activities and mini factory for the world. Speaking at Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Friday, he said that role of Punjab was crucial in achieving the desired status for Pakistan. LCCI President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, Senior Vice President Ali Hussam Asghar and Vice President Mian Zahid Jawaid Ahmad also spoke on the occasion. Former Presidents Sohail Lashari, Malik Tahir Javaid, former Senior Vice President Amjad Ali Jawa, EC members Haji Asif Ali Sehar, Fayyaz Haider, Haris Attiq, Shafiq Butt, Sh Sajjad Afzal and Uzma Shahid were also present.

Dr Salman Shah said that Punjab was a power house with enormous resources such as people, youth and the great ecosystem of rivers. “And then there is this phenomenon of urbanization and cities achieving scale; lots of young people are migrating from the rural economy to the urban economy. Utilization, productivity, and competitiveness of these can make a breakthrough. And the focus for Punjab government is to improve the institutions, and bring in governance and technology to utilize these resources”, he said. “For becoming an economic power, we need not confine ourselves to just one or two products. We should develop the existing manufacturing clusters all over Punjab.

To harness the resources in Punjab, reforms are very critical”, Dr Salman Shah said, adding, there was need to bring down the cost through deregulation; reducing the regulatory burden and eliminating hurdles in investments, while going for efficiency and productivity improvements so that agriculture can operate at a much higher value addition. “What this requires is streamlining and reforming the markets, reducing the transaction cost in the market that includes simplifying the procedures and the regulatory systems. Essentially, bringing regulatory and institutional reforms in the different markets include the commodity markets, wholesale, retail, housing, labor etc. as many of these are regulated through archaic regulations”, he said.

“We at least need a coordinated action for agriculture and rural economy, services economy, manufacturing and the mining sector, urbanization and human resource development”, he added. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that LCCI has been working extensively with LDA since 2015 for Industrial Zoning of Lahore Division and the regularization of existing industrial units. Re-zoning of Lahore is the requirement of the industry in order to accommodate the needs of future expansion and encourage local entrepreneurs to invest in green field and other projects. He said that the LCCI has also proposed that all existing industrial units should be regularized without penalty. Furthermore, government should demarcate industrial and economic zones and set up Special Economic Zones (SEZs) on different suitable sites.