GWADAR: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Friday said having increased oil prices again with a heavy heart, the government believed that any more burden on the poor masses would be unjust and it was a time for the elite class to sacrifice.
“I have called a meeting tomorrow… The billionaire elite should come forward and sacrifice for the poor masses and provide their resources through austerity… This will start from me, ministers, advisors, federal and provincial secretaries, and government officers,” the prime minister said.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony of Eastbay Expressway and groundbreaking of seven more development projects for Gwadar, he said the elite would have to play their part in that noble cause.
“This is their duty. I will ensure that they shower their resources for the poor and bear strict measures,” he remarked.
A component of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the 6-lane Eastbay Expressway would connect the Gwadar Port with the Makran Coastal Highway, also providing a link to Karachi. The prime minister told the gathering that the government tried to avert the burden of oil price hike, but it was done with a heavy heart as 90 percent of the country’s needs were met through imported oil.
He said perceiving the success of vote of no-confidence against it, the previous regime reduced the oil prices to trap the incumbent government.
He questioned as how the government could provide subsidy on the imported oil through loans.
He said the government had announced a relief package of Rs 2,000 each family under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) to mitigate the impact of the oil price hike.
The prime minister, who earlier unveiled the plaques of projects, expressed dissatisfaction over the slow pace of work.
He broke ground for the Gwadar seawater desalination plant by China Aid, Jingtal Gwadar Private Limited, Hangmei Lubricant Plant, Hangeng Agricultural Industrial Park, Gwadar Expo Center and Gwadar Fertilizer Plant, besides distribution of 3,000 solar panels.
He also took an overview of the development projects, including the under construction Gwadar Airport which was being built under a Chinese grant and faced a delay in completion.
He said the Eastbay Expressway would also provide a link to Karachi to ease the transportation of goods. He said a desalination plant would be installed and a hospital had been built for the people of Gwadar, while 3,200 solar panels would be distributed among the families there. He said instead of wasting billions on the water reservoirs, a desalination plant should have been installed to cope with the water needs of Gwadar.
The prime minister said in order to avoid any more delay in the projects, he had directed to strictly follow the timelines.
He assured that due to the silting, the depth of Gwadar sea port was reducing and instructed for the dredging to allow the traffic of heavy ships.
He suggested a G2G model for installation of the desalination plant and called for initiating talks with the Chinese side without any delay. Proposing a model to address the issue of power supply to Gwadar, he said the government should award a contract to any private company to provide solar panels to the households and bank loans should be arranged for them to pay back.
Proposing a second model, the prime minister said a solar plant of 100-150 megawatt should be installed in Gwadar to provide off-grid power supply to the people, who would be paying to the company as electricity bills.
Shehbaz Sharif also announced that in the first phase, the Federal Government would provide 2,000 boat engines to the fishermen through balloting.
He announced that the Federal Government would also allocate funds for the establishment of a university in Gwadar to ensure its timely completion. The prime minister said the Federal Government would enroll another 500,000 poor people as beneficiaries of the BISP, with 100 percent cover to the poor people of Gwadar.