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Country facing gas, water, power crises: PM Gilani

14 September, 2009

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LAHORE: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Sunday said the military operation in Malakand was close to an end as the government had achieved great successes.

The prime minister was talking to reporters at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Achievement Awards 2009 ceremony held at the Aiwan-e-Iqbal.

The impact of this success would trickle down in the shape of a new era of economic growth, which would benefit everyone, he said. The PM said law and order was the prime focus of the government. “We are giving attention to this issue as it (law and order) is necessary to attract foreign investment,” he added.

Responding to a query, the PM said the government would restore the 1973 Constitution which was formed by Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He said the National Finance Commission (NFC) award would be announced soon. The coming NFC award would give more independence to the provinces.

Gilani said the country was facing three major crises — power, gas and water shortage — and the government had evaluated a strategy to counter these issues. To overcome the electricity shortage, the PM said the government had divided its strategy into three parts —short term, mid term and long term.

About the gas crisis, Gilani said acute gas shortage would be faced in the coming winter and a plan had already been chalked out to tackle the situation. “We’ll give good news to the nation soon,” he said. About the water crisis, he said the government was constructing dams in order to save the next generation from any water crisis.

Earlier, speaking on the occasion, the PM said the Pakistan People’s Party and coalition partners had created a democratic environment and the common man was now benefiting. Successful settlement of IDPs was the biggest achievement of the government, he said.

He was of the view that more the business community is facilitated the greater will be economic development. Issues such as falling exports competitiveness, lack of sophistication, diversification of products and markets stem from structural weaknesses inherent in the economy and must be addressed, he remarked.

He said the Commerce Ministry had provided a medium-term plan called Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2009-12 in consultation with all stakeholders responding to the need to have a logical national export competitiveness development program. The STPF would ensure continuation of trade policy for three years and businesses could plan their production and export orders according to it, he said. At least Rs 35.22 billion had been earmarked to meet expenditures on proposed measures from the Export Investment Support Fund over three years, he added.

On the supply side, Gilani said important policy initiatives include certainty in the interest rate for investment, reliability of electricity supply at mutually agreed time by the Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) and insurance cover for visiting buyers. For trade facilitation, steps include facilitating presence in international markets through support for opening export offices abroad and opening of retail sales outlets abroad, he said.

The PM said the STPF also envisaged sector-specific initiatives such as compensating inland freight charges, technology, skill and management upgrade fund for value added products, brand promotion support for surgical instruments, sports goods and cutlery, product development and marketing fund for light engineering, enhancing sophistication in surgical instruments - centre of excellence and compliance with safety standards.

The PM also lauded philanthropic initiatives taken by the LCCI and the business groups, especially in the domain of health services. Punjab Governor Salman Taseer said on the occasion the encouraging trend in the Pakistani stock market was the barometer of investment in the country.


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