Besides having in
depth talks with his Malaysian counterpart Abdullah Ahmed Badawi,
British and Indian Foreign Ministers, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz
presided over a historic 12 hours long cabinet meeting in Islamabad and
addressed the Jeddah Economic Forum as a special invitee at Jeddah,
Saudi Arabia last week.
During his two-day
visit to Saudi Arabia, the Prime Minister addressed Jeddah Economic
Forum, called on crown prince Abdullah, Saudi Finance Minister, leading
businessmen and investors and high ranking officials of the Saudi
He also availed this
opportunity to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai who was also present
in Jeddah to attend the same meeting.
keynote address at the Economic Forum, Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz said
that five years of wide ranging economic and structural reforms have
transformed Pakistan into an exciting and resurgent economy with
confidence of domestic and foreign investors gaining new heights.
Pakistan is witnessing massive upsurge in economic activity "not seen
before in many decades," he added.
The Prime Minister
recalled difficult times which had forced economy on the verge of
collapse. However, it was the wisdom and dynamic leadership of President
General Pervez Musharraf and his team that steered the country out of
the troubled water. They worked together with honesty and devotion to
make Pakistan an economically stronger and politically stable country
today. The reforms introduced during the last five years have started
yielding results in terms of improved macroeconomic environment and
acceleration in economic growth. The premier said, the industrial sector
was growing in the range of 16 to 18 percent per annum whereas the
economy will probably record around 7 percent growth mark this year.
immense investment opportunities. It is a market of 150 million people
with a growing middle class and in the next five years we will be adding
another 15 million people," he added. Shaukat Aziz also referred to the
aggressive privatization programme, which offers attractive
opportunities to investors. On the investment front, he said, the
government was pursuing transparent and consistent economic policies.
"Our trade regime is highly liberal and open; the average tariff rate is
around 11 percent, there is no exchange control, exchange rate is market
determined, over 65 percent of our development projects are
concentrating on expanding and strengthening the country's physical
infrastructure," he added.
endeavoring to resolve all issues with India, including the core issue
of Jammu and Kashmir through political dialogue," said the premier when
he referred to the recent agreement between the two South Asian
countries on starting a bus service between Muzaffarabad and Srinagar.
Later, the Saudi
Finance Minister Dr Ibrahim al Asaf called on Prime Minister Shaukat
Aziz and discussed various issues relating to Pak-Saudi investment and
promotion of trade and commerce relations. The performance of Saudi-Pak
Investment Company was also discussed and the Saudi Finance Minister
expressed satisfaction on its operation. The progress on the joint
commission between the two countries was also discussed and reviewed its
performance. They expressed the desire to further promote activities of
The premier also
discussed the role of Islamic Development Bank with the Saudi Finance
Minister and suggested that the role should be made more proactive for
the development of Islamic countries. Shaukat Aziz emphasized the need
to further promote contacts in the private sector and assured Ibrahim
that Pakistan would provide all possible incentives and cooperation to
the Saudi businessmen.
All the Ministers
and Minister of State were mandated to attend the unprecedented 12 hours
long cabinet meeting (9 am to 9 pm) in the Prime Minister House last
Monday. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz presided over the meeting during
which the National Accountability Bureau held a workshop for the
cabinet. The President General Pervez Musharraf also turned up and
presided over the meeting and addressed the full cabinet. The exercise
titled as "Cabinet's Ethics retreat", first of its kind ever held in
Pakistan, focused attention on eradication of corruption at all level
and promotion of good governance. NAB Chairman Lt. Gen. Muneer Hafeez
and other senior officers of the organization spoke on the occasion and
provided insight of the working of various ministries and their
performance since return to democracy for the information of the
ministers asking them to take corrective measures.
"We are convinced
that mere rhetoric can hardly help banish the menace of corruption,
alleviate poverty and ensure good governance in the country. In fact, it
sounds disgusting that quite a few Federal Ministers, some top state
functionaries and a section of the ruling party elite are involved in
white collar crime, yet they continue to hold on the their position and
the government seeks advice of the same corrupt to fight corruption and
ensure good governance. Even NAB's operations need more transparency as
its image has received serious jolts due to number of non-transparent
deals in recent past."