ISLAMABAD - Terming peace and stability vital for economic activity, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif yesterday said that the country was moving forward on the path of development and hoped to take the growth rate to six per cent by the end of his constitutional term in office.

While addressing the function arranged at the Prime Minister’s Office to handover sales tax refund cheques to the top tax payers, the Prime Minister said that his government was consistently fighting to weed out the menace of terrorism as they knew it well that peace is vital for the economic progress and development.

Highlighting the achievements in the ongoing military operation Zerb-i-Azb and implementation of national action plan Prime Minister said that they have broken the backbone of militants and terrorism is breathing its last.

The Prime Minister said an economic turnaround was visible in the country, which was heading towards peace and economic stability.

He said terrorists were on the run after a successful military operation and expressed the hope that there would be peace all over the country soon.

He also announced that the government would fully pay all outstanding sales tax refunds to some other vital export sectors by October 15, this year.

The Prime Minister, who also handed over a number of cheques, out of total 6,332 amounting to Rs21.44 billion, urged the business community to play their role by investing in new areas, setting up industry and paying taxes to hasten the pace of development in the country.

He was also appreciative of the finance minister for enhancing the tax revenue to Rs 3,100 billion. He said inflation was on the decline, resources were increasing, the rupee was stable and all sectors of economy were showing positive results. He also gave a target of 6 per cent growth by the year 2018 and said if given another chance, it could go up to 12 per cent.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said his government had also been at the forefront in confronting the menace of terrorism and extremism and owing to hectic efforts, the terrorists were now on the run.

The Prime Minister said if there was peace, Pakistan would grow and develop further. He said peace would bring in foreign investment and help generate more electricity that in turn would power new industries. He said the time was ripe that the electricity tariffs were further reduced so as to enhance productivity.

Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan was left way behind and particularly pointed the lack of progress in the power sector over the past many decades.

He mentioned the Thar Coal project and said the day was not far when the locally produced coal would help generate cheap electricity.

The Prime Minister said the duration of load shedding in the country had declined sharply since his government came into power.

He also pointed to the transparency in all the new power projects and said a huge saving of Rs 100 billion had been made in three projects due to the efforts of his government.

He said the government was also working on generating electricity through liquefied natural gas, solar, hydel and wind power to meet the energy needs.

The Prime Minister said three LNG projects alone would generate 3,600 MW electricity, which would be added to the national grid.

He said work on those projects was going on at a fast pace and particularly mentioned the appreciation by the Chinese companies which acknowledged that those were going on at a much faster pace as compared to similar ones in China.

The Prime Minister also mentioned the past pace of work on Metro Bus services, Orange Train, up-gradation of the Pakistan Railways and the Premier Service of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

He said soon the PIA would capture large market share and acquire new aircraft. New routes to China and Canada would also be launched at a later stage, he added.

 The Prime Minister also dwelt at length on the various road building projects across the country and said a network of motorways and expressways was being built to link all major commercial, industrial and agricultural centers.

He said the northsouth connectivity under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor would usher in an era of prosperity in the country. He said work on several road projects was underway and the Manshera to Khunjerab road would be completed in 30 months.

He said the road network was also being linked to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and onwards to Afghanistan and the Central Asian Republics, while similar linkages were being built across Balochistan to provide connectivity with Iran.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pointed to the overwhelming success of his party in the general election in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and said despite the fact that he was not able to supervise the campaign, his party got an astounding success that reflected the people's trust in his party policies.

He said it was his party's policy to take along all the political parties on important national issues and he would continue that policy of reconciliation.

He said the PMLN government had a chance to form its own government in KP, but opted to let the PTI make the government.

Earlier, the Prime Minister also inaugurated the Capital House of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).

Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar told the gathering that the Prime Minister had fulfilled his promise made with the exporters, regarding zero rated tax regime on five major export sectors and payment of Rs 21.44 billion sales tax refund.

He said today symbolic cheques were being distributed among some top exporters whereas other cheques would be sent by courier service.

He said efforts were being made and next time, the funds would be transferred online directly into the bank accounts of exporters.

The international monetary and financial institutions had acknowledged the robust growth rate in Pakistan, which now stood among the top 10 most growing economies of the world, the minister added. He said Pakistan was the fourth country in the world which had parliamentarians' tax directory.  Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Humayun Akhtar Khan on the occasion said the government was committed to resolve all the issues confronted by the exporters and business community.

He said the major economic indicators of the country had witnessed great improvement in the last three years. He said the history would remember Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for bringing about $46 billion investment to the country in the form of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

FPCCI President Abdul Rauf Alam and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Nisar Muhammad Khan also spoke on the occasion and highlighted the achievements made in the economic, revenue and business sectors.