- Says he does not have a magic wand, nation will have to work hard for progress
Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Friday asked the business community to suggest solutions to the prevailing economic crisis in the country, Aaj News reported.
“We need to analyse the economic situation with patience,” the premier said while addressing a ceremony at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry during a one-day trip to the metropolitan city.
The premier said that he doesn't have a "magic wand" to resolve all the problems in the country, urging that the nation will have to work hard for progress.
Speaking about the issues faced by Karachi city, the prime minister said an investment of $1 billion by Saudi Arabia was ready which could be used to address the problem of water supply by installing a desalination plant.
“One billion dollars is available, it is a gift of investment from Saudi Arabia. As the prime minister, I am laying this in front of you. Sit together and brainstorm and make a feasibility plan. Set up a desalination plant and I believe that clean water will be available at every home within five years," he told the businessmen.
"Now it is up to you. This investment is available. It is on the table," he said, adding that he had told Finance Minister Miftah Ismail on the flight over to Karachi that he wanted to use the funds for the city.
PM Shehbaz urged the provincial government to work out the feasibility of the project in coordination with the business community as well as the public representatives.
He also sought solutions to the continuous depreciation of the Pakistani rupee against the US dollar.
“I am not here for political point-scoring,” the premier clarified, stressing that he wants to know the solutions to the problems faced by the business community.
He told that gathering that in 2018, the dollar rate stood at Rs115 which jumped to Rs189 during three and half years of the previous government.
“When I took the oath, it (dollar) was at Rs189. This Rs60-65 rise is not our fault,” he remarked.
He said having perceived the success of the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan, the previous government reduced the oil prices despite the country facing a huge debt burden.
Commenting on the government’s decision to place a blanket ban on imports, the premier said that the ban on the import of luxury and non-essential items would not only save $4 billion but also support the local industry besides addressing the social imbalance.
“The objective of banning (import of luxury item) – for a specific time – is to save foreign exchange and bring stability. If we save $4 billion, this can meet our whole edible oil needs… This is like earning $4 billion,” the prime minister said.
PM Shehbaz said the poor people living in Gilgit Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, or Balochistan, struggling for their bread to eat, medicine to treat illness, and clothes to wear, would feel neglected to see the elite enjoying the imported luxury goods. However, this ban on the import of such items would address that social imbalance.
He said as this import ban would support the local industry, there was also a need to cap the prices of those items under a certain formula.
The prime minister also urged the business community to suggest solutions to the prevailing economic situation.
He said the ousted government neither provided relief to the common man in sugar, flour or edible oil, nor executed any agriculture or public welfare project with serious intention.
He said with an 80% increase, the previous government obtained Rs22,000 billion in loans during its 3.5 years.
Prime Minister Sharif said despite unprecedented support from a national institution, the preceding government could not perform and recalled the mega projects executed during the PML-N government including CPEC, end to load shedding, and installation of wind, solar, and LNG power plants.
He said the nation wanted to know as to where the huge loans were spent and whether the excessive load shedding was due to political chaos or corruption.
He said if the nation got united and made a resolve, it could change the fate of the country and cited the revival of war-hit Germany and Japan and unprecedented development by China.
“Why can’t we do it” Are we fated to live like a beggar? This is out of the question,” he commented.
He told the gathering that though, being a nuclear power, Pakistan was capable to foil any ill-intention against it, the country lagged behind India in the field of information technology which rose to a $200 billion export market contrary to $1.5 billion of Pakistan.
However, he said he had asked the ministries concerned to take the IT exports to 15 billion by empowering youth.