Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Tuesday addressed a day-long pre-budget business conference in the federal capital and said that the country’s economy cannot be streamlined without political stability.
The conference was being held to explore avenues for consensus-based economic measures with all stakeholders on board. It brought together leaders from a wide range of industries on a single platform for a vibrant and interactive debate, in line with the prime minister’s vision of the “Charter of Economy” and an inclusive economic policy-making approach.
The prime minister said since Pakistan’s inception 75 years back, the economic development in the initial 25 years and the economic development after that have a “stark” difference.
PM Shehbaz said Pakistan’s five-year development programmes were made by top-tier professionals, which allowed the country to progress and Islamabad was way ahead of other nations in the region.
“In the 1990s, the Pakistani rupee had better value than the Indian rupee. Pakistan also showed (India) how can we run the economy on modern lines; we liberalised Pakistan’s economy and India copied it,” he said.
PM Shehbaz added there were suggestions put forth by the conference’s participants, but “we should not limit ourselves to proposals and move ahead and implement them.”
“But it is important to note that without political stability, there can be no economic stability, and vice versa,” he said, stressing the need for a “Charter of Economy”, which would lead to long-term stability.
“No matter what happens, whichever party comes into power, the goals set in the ‘Charter of Economy’ will remain unchanged. It will become our sacred trust, which will not change,” the prime minister said, adding: “We need this.”
Moving on, the prime minister said there was a need to develop rural areas as when people travel from underdeveloped to developed cities, they become a burden on the resources of that place.
“The rural areas, which comprise 65% of Pakistan’s population, should be developed. This can only happen when our children get quality education there,” the prime minister noted.
He added that there was a need to increase the agricultural yield through modern technology as it could change the fate of Pakistan, which would later be exported and help the national exchequer.
PM Shehbaz said following the 18th amendment, the provinces were empowered and the federation’s powers were curbed. But he noted that the provinces and the Centre would have to work together to develop a comprehensive plan.
“For that, I will need your (businessmen’s) help. I am not saying this for a mere speech. No, we are forming a task force but I will not go into details of it now,” he said
Comparing the country’s IT industry with that of India’s, the prime minister said that the latter generates around $200 billion while Pakistan’s industry was hovering around $2.5 billion. “We must go for special export industrial zones,” he added.
The PM said that the government will make well-structured industrial zones. “To increase the export, the developed zone should be handed over to the investors to work on it. We need to fix ambitious targets.”
Talking about the tough decisions being taken by the government, PM Shehbaz said that the non-productive assets should be taxed. “The windfall profits in the real estate should be taxed,” he said.