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LAHORE: Terming the government’s low-cost housing initiative a beginning of a revolution in the country, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that the government was focusing on the housing sector to achieve higher growth and to provide job opportunities to the people.

While addressing a ceremony after performing the groundbreaking of a housing project, the “Punjab Peri-Urban Low-cost Housing Scheme”, the premier said that the government was striving for equitable distribution of resources to rich and poor by ensuring basic amenities of life for all.

“The notion of elite capture and the prevailing mindset that Pakistan belongs to a particular class only is regrettable,” he said, adding: “No nation could prosper with an island of rich and a big sea of poor.”

He was of the view that the elite-centric policies hugely damaged the poor whose access to civic facilities, including health, education and jobs, greatly suffered.

“Our exports have also started increasing due to the incentives given to the industries, and the people will see the positive outcome of present government's policies in the coming days,” he said.

He added that Pakistan was also undergoing development in information technology with record exports of equipment in 11 years.

The prime minister said his vision was to make the powerful answerable to the law and strengthen the weaker segments of society.

“Islam’s first socio-welfare State of Madina was a model to be emulated where rule of law and justice prevailed regardless of the status of a person,” he said.

The premier said that the Opposition wanted an NRO from him to spare their corruption.

However, such efforts would go in vain. Political elite in the past patronized illegal land grabbing that led to litigation and obstructed development work, he insisted.

Claiming that construction industry was generating an economic boom in the country, the PM said the government had launched several affordable housing schemes for the low-income groups, and incentives were given to the construction industry, and there was a record sale of cement.

He was confident that the impact of this boom on the overall economy would soon be visible.

He said the government's low-cost housing initiative would enable the common man, including the salaried class, welders, mechanics and small farmers, to own their own houses. He said the banks are now providing loans on low interest rates to the common man to build their own houses.

Under the peri-urban housing scheme, he said, the housing units are being built in areas where there was no concept of constructing the houses.

Talking about the government steps aimed at uplifting the agriculture sector, the premier said there was record production of wheat, rice and maize.

This happened because they ensured that the farmers got better prices for their produce. He said the agriculture sector would be transformed through the introduction of new techniques and technology.

“The government was focused on bringing a revolution in the agriculture sector and farmers are facilitated. During the last two years, the farmers were given an additional payment of Rs11 billion, and the yields of wheat, rice and corn witnessed a record production,” he added.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan advised the people to observe SOPs to deal with the third wave of Covid-19.

He said the next two weeks were very important, and “we have to bring down the corona cases, and it can be done if the people start wearing masks”.

On the occasion, the PM also virtually inaugurated the work at nine other sites, Chiniot, Dera Ghazi Khan, Chunian, Khanewal, Khushab, Mandi Bahauddin, Mianwali, Jalalpur Pirwalla and Sargodha.

He said the project would facilitate the common man.

He lauded the Frontier Works Organization and the Punjab government for executing the work on low-cost housing in a record time.

Speaking on the occasion, Punjab chief minister Sardar Usman Buzdar said that the prime minister’s commitment of five million houses was being materialized speedily, as the first phase of construction of 35,000 apartments in Lahore had been started, and the foundation stone of the LDA City Housing project has been laid to construct four thousand apartments.

While giving details, the CM said 133 locations have been identified for the prime minister’s affordable housing project in different districts and added that 10120 houses would be built in the first phase in 32 localities in 26 Tehsils of the province.

He said that the project has been started in 10 different locations: Raiwind, Chunian, Mandi Bahauddin, Mianwali, Khushab, Sargodha, Chiniot, Khanewal, Multan and DG Khan.

He announced expansion of the scope of this project in more Tehsils while the house area has been increased from three marlas to 3.5 marlas to benefit the inhabitants.

Meanwhile, the total support price of the costly land is fixed at 30,000 to 35,000 per marla, he further said.

“The total cost of the house is around Rs1.43 million while the applicant will deposit Rs143,000 and around one million rupees will be provided by the Punjab Bank. The applicant will deposit around ten thousand monthly installment and the Pakistan government/NAPHDA will provide a Rs0.3 million subsidy for each house.

Thus, Rs1.4 million houses would be provided at Rs1.1 million each in addition to the subsidy for the piece of land. The construction work is given to FWO to ensure transparency and construction quality,” he said.

The provincial cabinet has already approved three billion rupees to improve the infrastructure of 32 project sites; provision of the roof to the poor is a virtue and this is also the fulfillment of the promise made with the people of Pakistan, the CM added.

Earlier, the Punjab CM called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and discussed with him political and administrative matters.

During the meeting, pace of development projects, governance issues and measures to control inflation came under discussion, sources said.

The PM expressed satisfaction over Punjab government’s steps and directed it to provide relief to the common man by controlling inflation.

He also directed to use all departments to control spread of the coronavirus, the sources added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021