Besides meeting many foreign dignitaries including
Senior Vice President of the World Bank, German and British investors
and a NATO delegation, Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz had a very tight
scheduled last week. He visited Azad Kashmir and District Attock; one of
these two constituencies from he had elected as the member of the
National Assembly prior to his elections the Prime Minister of the
Presiding over the NEC meeting to consider the 5
years (2005-10) Development program, a symposium on health issues,
laying the foundation stone of newly inaugurated tower of Islamabad
Stock Exchange were some of the important functions he attended during
During the course of NEC meeting, the Prime Minister
emphasized that the country must move forward into a double-digit growth
to seize new opportunities with the success of the economic reforms of
five years. He was firm in his assessment that the country was striving
towards the target of 8 percent growth by 2009-10 or earlier.
Expecting a high growth scenario, the Prime Minister
said that the targets of GDP growth for the year would be exceeded.
Currently we are heading towards 7 percent growth instead of 6.6 percent
because the targets in agriculture, large-scale manufacturing and
services sectors would be surpassed.
Shaukat Aziz also claimed that unemployment has
declined for the first time since 1993 and that the trend of rising
poverty has been stalled. He expressed the hope that the proposed Medium
Term Development Framework (2009-10) would help reducing poverty by 20
percent in the country.
He identified that Civil services, police, judiciary
and devolution of power would be the key areas for achieving the desired
level of good governance. In the face of emerging WTO challenges, we
need to focus on reducing the cost of doing business in Pakistan,
especially in areas such as government regulations, tax distortions,
efficiency of public utilities and removal of bottlenecks especially in
the infrastructure development.
Addressing the business community after performing
foundation stone laying ceremony of 19 storied Islamabad Stock Exchange
tower; Prime Minister observed that the stock exchanges should
consolidate the organizational structure and is well tuned in
implementation of capital market reforms. This he said was important to
attract foreign and local investors, especially the retail investors to
play their role in expansion of the capital formation.
There is a need for enlisting more companies on the
stock exchanges, and the government was pursuing the privatization
program through efforts to reinforce capital market base in Pakistan.
The reforms in the capital market would increase retail investment,
"as we do not need trading halls in future", which would be
replaced with the computerized trading of stocks. In the next phase,
stock exchanges need electronic trading facility for both retail and
major investors, he observed.
He said that the government and SECP have jointly
worked hard to bring capital market reforms during the last five years.
Despite resistance, the reforms have shown remarkable results "and
we have to move forward in view of changing international market
dynamics. He said: "Time has come to put forward the
demutualization of all three stock exchanges. The concept of
demutualization is very necessary for the improvement of stock
exchanges. Whenever we go through reforms, we have to make changes,
keeping in view global trends. The government has started
second-generation reforms in different areas of the country. He said the
government has opened door of opportunities for both domestic and
private investors, and private sector should take advantage of these
opportunities. Presently, every major industry in Pakistan is ready for
expansion or is expanding taking advantage of economic growth in the
The Prime Minister said that the government's
commitment for implementation of reforms has visibly improved three
major area i.e. political, economic and diplomatic fronts. The situation
on the political front is improving while the consistency in policies
producing positive economic results. The micro economic environment has
also started attracting foreign investment. Today, Pakistan is
considered to be a responsible country particularly in relationship with
neighboring countries on the diplomatic front, he pointed out.
During his visit to the rain-affected areas around
the Neelam Valley in AJK the PM announced that a relief package was in
the pipeline to help the rain and heavy snowfall hit people.
Taking to World Bank Senior Vice President, Shaukat
Aziz underlined the importance of the World Bank's continued support to
the country for implementing its second-generation reforms. He also
called for World Bank's investment in sector like infrastructure
development, water resources and energy sector development to further
accelerate the pace of development.
In his separate meetings with British and German
investors, the Prime Minister offered them to invest in power and energy
sector, which promised lucrative returns. He said that demand for power
and energy is increasing in Pakistan as economic activities are picking
up all over the country. Currently the country's economy is on high
growth trajectory and there is a need to ensure uninterrupted power
supply for its future needs to realize its true potential".
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of IT village -
the software technology Park in Lahore. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz
urged the private sector to invest in information technology industry to
benefit from the opportunities of this fast growing field. Pakistan
could attain high growth levels by investing in non-traditional sectors
like information technology, in addition to the traditional ones. The
government, he said, had taken many steps over the last several years to
provide an enabling environment to information technology sector.