Faisalabad - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will visit Faisalabad or invite business community of Faisalabad to Islamabad to personally hear and redress their genuine reservations and practical bottlenecks hampering the implementation on Vision 2025, said Prof Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms. He was addressing the members of Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) here Fridayday.

He gave an overview of the Vision 2025 and said that he will meet PM next week to brief him about the problems faced by business community of Pakistan. He said that we are endeavoring to make Pakistan economically a strong entity and in this connection business community should also cooperate with the government. He mentioned the incidence of 9/11 and said that during last 14-15 years Pakistan was painted a safe haven for the terrorists but after the announcement of $45 billion Chinese investment, this situation has been changed altogether and now even our ‘hostile media’ has been forced to declare Pakistan as one of the safest heaven for the FDI (Foreign Direct Investment).

“Chinese investment will play a positive role in convincing other countries to come forward and invest in Pakistan”, he said and added that German, American, European, Middle East and Japanese investors are now feverishly exploring the investment opportunities in Pakistan. He termed Chinese investment as one of the biggest ever FDI in Pakistan and said that it is also a challenge to our capability to fully capitalize its benefits.

“If we succeeded to avail this opportunity, Pakistan will win a berth among top 25 biggest economies of the world within next 10-15 years”, he said and added that Chinese investment will also make Pak economy as fastest growing economy of the Asia. Responding to a question, he said that during first two years (in govt), we made strenuous efforts to achieve much needed stabilization in the country. Now all economic indicators are positive and we are now diverting our attention towards the growth of the economy and in this connection efforts are being made to provide enabling environment. He termed energy crisis as one the major bottlenecks in achieving this objective and told that out of 45 billion dollars agreements, 30-35 billion dollars have been earmarked for the energy projects. He said that we are facing shortfall of 5000 MW electricity. We have to make efforts to generate surplus electricity to make our future needs with cheap electricity in order to compete with our regional competitors.

Regarding energy crisis, he said that a three-point strategy has been made. We will generate cheap electricity in addition to laying transmission lines to dispatch the electricity from power houses to the present and emerging load centers. The third problem is relating to the governance. We have to improve our structure to check pilferage of electricity in addition to ensuring 100 percent recovery of the electricity bills. He said that under CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor), energy projects of 10,400 MW have been proposed. 1600 MW will be generated through hydel resource while 5200 coal based projects have been proposed. Similarly, power projects of wind and solar would also be installed. He claimed that 1000 MW solar energy park near Bahawalpur will be the biggest park of the world. Continuing, he said that $ 11 billion have been earmarked for the development of infrastructure. With this amount, Gwadar port will be developed in addition to the construction of airport.

He underlined the importance of political stability and export led economy to achieve the objective of economic development and said that under the Vision 2025 we have viable plans to increase our $ 25 billion exports to 150 billion dollars. This is very important to open the doors to progress and prosperity. “We must promote exports culture in our industrial sector”, he said and assured that energy crisis will be resolved within next 2-3 years and with the working of industrial units with full capacity will help increase export surplus to the required level. He stressed the need for collaboration and partnership with Chambers and said that they should tell us how Government can help them in enhancing exports. In this connection, a task force could also be created to prepare a result-oriented roadmap for enhanced exports. He underlined the importance of private sector and said that the government will only provide enviable environments with prudent policies while rest of the work will be sole responsibility of the private sector. He said that government intends to work with private sector as a partner. However, research and innovation is imperative to achieve this object. For this purpose a research fund of Rs.1 billion has been created. Industry-academia will work collectively and our 7500 Ph. D Scholars will work on innovative projects for our local industry.

Earlier, Engr Rizwan Ashraf, President FCCI, in his welcome address appreciated the achievements of the government on economic front and said that dwindling exports of $ 25 billion is a big question mark despite of positive economic indicators. He pointed out the structural deficiencies and said that we should adopt a consensus Energy Act to ensure completion of the long term energy projects. He also stressed the need to bring improvement in the taxation system and said that 17 percent sales tax is unviable for the country where more than 110 million people are living under poverty line. He also demanded the revival of the sick industrial units on fast track basis.

Mian Adrees, President FPCCI paid best tributes to the government for improving the overall law and order situation in the country. Rana Muhammad Afzal, Mian Abdul Mannan, Mohtarma Najma Afzal, Muzammal Sultan, Mian Muhammad Lateef, Azhar Majeed Sheikh, Mian Naeem and senior vice president FCCI Nadeem Allahwala took part in the question-answer session while Mian Javed Iqbal thanked the members for their active participants in this meeting.

Later, Mian Muhammad Adrees President FPCCI presented a shield to Ahsan Iqbal. Earlier, the minister also inaugurated solar plant in FCCI. He also congratulated President FCCI by making FCCI first green chamber of the country.