Self-reliance, tactical solutions needed to address economic woes: PM

| Shehbaz promises every single penny of $2b IMF tranche to be spent prudently | Appreciates Chinese financial support for Pakistan during tough times | Says several mega projects including Reko Diq abandoned in past damaging national agenda

ISLAMABAD   -Prme Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday said the current eco­nomic scenario of Pakistan re­quired tactical solutions to ad­dress economic problems and stressed for rising above politics to sort out the financial issues confronting the country.

Addressing the ‘Turn Around Pakistan’ conference, organised by Ministry of Planning Devel­opment and Special Initiatives here yesterday, the PM said eco­nomic self-reliance was impera­tive to achieve the goals of devel­opment and prosperity.

He said Pakistan is facing many external and internal challenges which are compounded by the existing commodity super-cycle and geo-political situation.

The PM said as the econom­ic growth did not offer enough opportunities for national prog­ress, short-term measures could act as a catalyst for speeding up the growth. He also said that fi­nancial self-reliance was the top most priority of the coalition government.

Shehbaz said focusing on the areas of agriculture, agro-based industry and exports was vital to strengthen the national econ­omy. He stressed the need for judicious utilization of the $2 billion tranche from the Interna­tional Monetary Fund (IMF) and pledged that every single penny would be spent prudently.

He also mentioned the sup­port of China during the tough financial times and helping Pa­kistan in its journey towards economic stability.

PM Sharif said there was no dearth of talent and potential in Pakistan and emphasized setting the right direction to achieve the goals of prosperity.

He pointed out that several vital projects such as Reko Diq were abandoned in the past that damaged the development agenda of the country.

He said also, many power gen­eration projects were stopped that resulted in shortage of elec­tricity and impacted the indus­trial growth.

The prime minister expressed satisfaction that the conference engaged all the relevant stake­holders which could hold the development sector together from across the nation.

He said wider and inclusive consultations of experts belong­ing to diversified fields could be helpful in providing solutions to come out of this economic quagmire. The conference was attended by representatives of political parties, federal minis­tries, provincial governments, national and international pri­vate sector entrepreneurs, in­ternational development and fi­nancial institutions, academia, think tanks, independent ex­perts, NGOs and civil society.

The premier stressed the need for all quarters to work togeth­er for the country’s progress as well as the need for self-re­liance. Self-reliance guarantees political and economic indepen­dence, he said.

Talking about the recent opening of a mega develop­ment project in Bangladesh, PM Shehbaz said that his counter­part had proudly announced that they had achieved this feat without the help of internation­al donors. “Surely, this is a big achievement,” he said, adding that Pakistan was not lacking in resources or expertise.

He cited the example of Reko Diq, saying Pakistan had wast­ed billions but had yet to earn anything from the project. PM Shehbaz said that Pakistan was drowning under debts, saying the country’s liabilities far out­weighed its assets.

He regretted that the 1,200-megawatt Haveli Baha­dur Shah Power Plant, set up by the former PML-N government, had still not been completed.

“If you look at the electricity we were supposed to get, which was supposed to run the agri­culture sector, our industries, [and] give millions employ­ment; when you take all of this into account, then we suffered a colossal loss.”

During his speech, the pre­mier said that Pakistan had nothing to show after 75 years of independence. “But nothing will be achieved by crying over spilled milk,” he asserted.

He went on to say that a few weeks ago, there was a dan­ger of the country running out of edible oil. He said he wrote to Indonesian President Joko Widodo in this regard and also spoke to him on the phone.

PM Shehbaz went on to say that Pakistan was facing count­less issues as he called for ris­ing above personal interests and differences. “New govern­ments blame the previous gov­ernments. We need to decide on changing the country’s fate and for that we need to work day and night. Unless this is done, we will keep moving in circles,” he said

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