The constitution of a 12-member committee, headed by
the advisor on Finance, Dr. Salman Shah to strictly monitor price
control situation by keeping an eye on supply and demand position was
the most significant policy decision taken by the Prime Minister,
Shaukat Aziz, last week.
The Prime Minister also conducted a late night
meeting with Directors of Karachi Stock Exchange and top brass of the
Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) to strike the root
cause behind recent crash of the stock markets in Pakistan. He advised
them to go to the bottom of the matter to ascertain the real causes,
which led to the unusual crash causing huge losses to the weak
investors. He said he wanted smiles back to the KSE.
The premier has also reviewed performance of the
Agriculture Ministry. He inaugurated an international seminar on
anti-money laundering measures organized by the State Bank of Pakistan,
besides addressing the delegates from Asian countries at the launch of
Gandhara week in Islamabad.
The inauguration of the gas supply project for Gudu
town in Balochistan was another highlight of the week. He addressed the
staff and students of Lasbela University of Agriculture Water and Marine
Science in Balochistan and had a meeting with a group of industrialists
At a reception, hosted in his honour by MNA, Sardar
Saleem Jan Mazari in Kashmore, the Prime Minister reiterated his
government's resolve to build more water reservoirs to meet the growing
Though it was a late decision to constitute Prime
Minister's Committee on Prices (PMCP), yet it was a step in the right
direction. The PMCP with Dr. Salman Shah as Chairman, has its members
namely Daniyal Aziz, Chairman NRB, Omer Ayub Khan, Minister for State
for Finance, M. Naseer Mengal, Minister of State for Petroleum and
Natural Resources, Riaz Fatyana, MNA, Kunwar Khalid Younas, MNA, Mrs.
Kashmala Tariq, MNA, and Federal Secretaries of Finance, Food and
Agriculture, Petroleum and Natural Resources and Statistics. The new
body, impressive as it will appear to be under the obtaining
circumstances, is stated to have been given task to propose measures to
keep a check on the price level of various commodities in the country
through a proper system of monitoring on daily basis. More to it, it has
been authorized to co-opt any member to assist it in carrying out its
work. All this, put together, will also make it appear that, seemingly,
genuinely intrigued by the behaviors of prices over a rather long
period, it has been deemed expedient to determine its causes and to do
the needful to address the resulting disillusionment among the people
all over the country.
A strong body to monitor price situation was long
overdue in view of the unchecked price hike mounting inflationary
pressures in the country. Increasing prices of petroleum products,
electricity, gas, flour, ghee, sugar and other essential items of daily
use has eroded the budget of the low income groups. The indifferent
attitude of the government towards the price spiral has encouraged the
profiteers and the hoarders. The cost of education and health care,
which are the fundamental rights of the people have also registered
unprecedented increase over the past few years manifesting a dismal
state of government's apathy towards its primary social responsibility
for the welfare of the people.
The vicious fortnightly increase in POL prices having
a multiplier effect on general prices has become a mockery of the price
stabilization process that the government boasts of so vociferously.
In this backdrop, there is a dire need of an
effective body to monitor and control price situation with the task
lashing at the exploiters who were fleecing the common man without fear
of the law. Understandably, with inflation reportedly touching the
double digit, such a body will have to work very hard to tame the jenny
of price spiral in the country.
The advice to bring back the smiles of KSE came when
the Prime Minister met the delegation of the senior officials including
Moin M. Fudda, Managing Director of KSE, and Chairman SECP at the
Governor House Tuesday night. Moin Fudda, while giving details of the
PM's observation over the recent market crash, said that Security and
Exchange Commission of Pakistan has also been assigned the task to
unearth the real factors behind the recent debacle at the Karachi Stock
Market, if the people were found involved in any form of maneuvering
would be duly dealt with.
"We have to learn lessons from such events to
avoid recurrence of such a situation," PM remarked. Prime Minister
Shaukat Aziz spelling out the economic turnaround and the growing
economic fundamentals, said that the economy was well poised to hit 7
percent growth rate, which have placed Pakistan as one of the ten
countries of high growth rate.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony of the building
of Lasbela Textile Mills to the newly set up Lasbela University of
Agriculture, the Prime Minister said that the government was determined
to take steps to gear up exploration for oil, gas and metals in
Balochistan for benefit of its people and the country.
The federal government has gifted to the university
one bullion rupees textile mill, which was established some 20 years ago
in collaboration with Iran over an area of 102 acres.
Shaukat Aziz said Balochistan was rich in natural
resources including oil, gas, marble, granite, zinc, lead, copper and
other minerals, the only thing required was to explore them for the
benefit of the people of Balochistan as well as Pakistan. "We will
use modern and latest technology for mining and exploration for oil, gas
and other minerals in the province," he said. The Oil and Gas
Development Corporation would expand its explorational activity in
Balochistan to tap hydrocarbon potentials with a view to bring
prosperity to the people of this province, said the premier.
The Chinese firms working at Saindak mining project
had proposed doubling of copper production form the mine to meet the
growing international demand. "They want to increase their
investment in the project to enhance copper production from Saindak
project," he said.
Similarly, the Prime Minister said, an Australian
company also wanted to extract copper from a mine in Balochistan. Their
exploration results were positive, he said, adding that these activities
would benefit the people of Balochistan and spur economic activities in
At the international seminar on Anti-money
Laundering, the Prime Minister disclosed that anti-money laundering law
was ready and would soon be moved to the parliament for approval. He
said with the financial sector reforms in the last five years, the
country's economy has improved. There is need for creating culture of
compliance to the laws, change of behavior, and adhere to the
conventions to fight menace of the money laundering. "Since money
laundering could not be checked through legislation alone, therefore,
there is need for strengthening national, social and political
institutions, promoting rule of law, tackling corruption, improving
economic status of people and raising their standard of living."
He said there is a strong link between the poverty
and illegal activities, creating a macroeconomic structure within which
commodity markets can grow freely, supporting alternative means of
development and sources of income for farmers engaged in poppy
cultivation, supporting education, and integrating global efforts for
just solution of political issues.
The Prime Minister rightly said that money laundering
cannot be checked through legislation alone. To deal with the menace, it
is necessary to strengthen social and political institutions, promote
rule of law and improve the living standards of the people to curb the
lust for money laundering. Pakistan has suffered a great deal as a
result of money laundering by certain state functionaries in the past.
Not only the national exchequer was deprived of due to clandestine
tactics of money laundering, but the country earned a bad reputation of
being the second most corrupt nation in the world. Fiscal prudence is
especially needed in the state functionaries, because it is established
that corruption, kickbacks, money laundering are simply not possible
without their connivance. That's what Pakistan has witnessed in the past
decades. It's encouraging that President Musharraf and Prime Minister
Shaukat Aziz are mindful of the menace and have been able to curb the
tendency of corruption and kickbacks at the higher echelon of the
country's administration. A greater effort is, however, needed to check
the scourge of invisible money laundering in order to squeeze the
lifeline of the forces of terrorism and anarchy.
At the launch of Gandhara week, Prime Minister
Shaukat Aziz said Pakistan was geared up to utilize its
"unbelievable potential" in tourism and was working with the
private sector to make the country an attractive tourist destination.
"We wish to show the world our natural beauty, rich historical
background dating back to thousand of years and our people who believe
in peace and inter-faith harmony," he told the participants from
many Asian countries at the launch of the Gandhara week.
Prime Minister Aziz dwelt at length about the
abounding natural beauty of Pakistan's Northern Area, boasting of six of
the world's highest peaks down to the plain where the Gandhara and Indus
valley civilizations nurtured. He said Pakistan had a multifaceted rich
heritage, divergent cultures and was the birthplace of ancient
civilizations, which it desired to share with the world.
In his opening remarks at the three-day International
Conference on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Prime Minister
has pledged for advancing the MDGs agenda. He affirmed that gender
equity and development cannot be achieved without the social, political
and economic empowerment of women. While the political representation of
women in Pakistan does the country proud, effective strategies for their
economic empowerment will be put in place, as inalienable right, said
Shaukat Aziz. The conference was jointly hosted by the Ministry of Women
Development, All Pakistan Women Association and the United Nations
System-Pakistan. Over 800 national and international delegates attended
the inaugural session.
Addressing the participants at the reception in his
honour held at Kashmore (Sindh) Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz declared
that water reservoirs were imperative and would be built to meet water
requirements of the country. "President General Pervez Musharraf
and I promise to you that Sindh will not be deprived of even a drop of
water of its share," and construction of dams would start soon.
The premier said the country had a long spell of
rains and snowfall but bulk of the water was wasted because there were
no additional reservoirs. "Had we constructed the dams, millions of
acre feet rainwater would have been stored and ultimately used for
meeting our agricultural needs in the times of shortage. If we have to
save our lands and agriculture in future, this could be possible only by
constructing new dams. The recent rains resulted in enough water for our
crops and we will have very good forthcoming Kharif seasons which will
ultimately bring prosperity for our farmers," he added.
Speaking at the cheque distribution ceremony to the
victims of cooperative societies scam, the Prime Minister sounded a note
of warning that people should refrain from investing in incredible
schemes so that fraudulent element could not deprive them of their hard
earned money. They should go only for the schemes approved by State Bank
of Pakistan, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and
other regulatory bodies.
Reviewing the performance of the Ministry of Food,
Agriculture and Livestock, during the last quarter, the Prime Minister
had underlined the need for new initiatives and attracting investors to
the agro-based industries to realize the full potential for the
agriculture sector in Pakistan. He noted improvement in agricultural
production in the recent years. He said the enhanced production had been
possible due to increase in per acre yield, which reflected the success
of the policies pursued by the government. The government, he added,
attached the highest priority to agriculture, as it was the backbone of
the economy and could bring a revolution in the lives of people in rural