PM TRACKER
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NEW TRACTOR MANUFACTURING PLANT TO HELP BOOST TIES WITH NEIGHBOURS

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From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI,
 Islamabad

 Apr 18 - 24, 2005
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The Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz remained busy with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during his four-day official visit to Pakistan. The Chinese Prime Minister was accompanied by a high level delegation of 70 members.

After three days of meetings and talks held at the highest level, the two countries have signed 22 agreements including "treaty of friendship, cooperation and good neighbourly relations" which is of course a landmark giving a new height to the long friendship between China and Pakistan.

The visiting prime minister also held meetings with Ch. Shujaat Hussain and Senator Mushahid Hussain who briefed him on progress on Balochistan and about their visit to India and their meetings with Indian leadership. In a meeting with Governor NWFP, Wen addressed a gathering at ground breaking ceremony of new a tractor manufacturing plant Agro Tractor Limited near Sheikhupura and laid foundation stones of 5 interconnected projects of Rs30 billion in Chakwal including three cement plants bringing an investment of over $500 million by Pakistani expatriates, which would provide job opportunities to over 50,000 people.

Meanwhile, addressing a gathering of industrialists, investors and locals, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said, the completion of the plants would generate economic activity, improve infrastructure and create jobs. The Prime Minister said, Pakistan, with the completion of these projects could become a major exporter of cement to the regional countries. Pakistan was one of the major cement exporters for the reconstruction work in Afghanistan and the local cement industry was already working on full capacity. "There is still vast scope for improvement and sky is the limit," he said while referring to the large demand for cement within the country and in the neighboring countries.

Shaukat Aziz terming the event as a "historic " and a "red letter day" said, "we are embarking on a journey to progress, prosperity and development that will take us to new Pakistan". The Prime Minster announced that the areas adjoining the four industrial units, be provided natural gas, and said the federal and the provincial governments besides the investors would share funds for the construction of road network around the area.

About the environmental impact, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said, all the three cement units are installing plants that fully comply with highest standards to curb environmental pollution. The government, he said, believes that a "clean environment means a healthy people," and would ensure that such standards are maintained.

The government, he said, was creating a friendly environment to encourage more business and to create investment opportunities and the people would be the real beneficiaries of this development. He said a bright future lied ahead for the people of the area, with the completion of these units.

"I can assure you that in the next five years, the whole area would be fully transformed," he said adding a number of allied industries and businesses would set up their offices in and around Chakwal, creating more employment opportunities.

Addressing a big gathering at Sheikhupura, Prime Minister said that the government is expecting five percent growth in the agriculture sector during the current financial year against the target of four percent. He disclosed that fortunately the country had produced 15 million bales of cotton, which was a record in the history of the country while wheat was expected to touch the figure of 22 million tonnes in this season. Punjab Chief Minister Ch. Pervez Ellahi, Punjab Governor Lt. Gen. Khalid Maqbool (Retd), Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Sikander Hayat Bosan and other high officials were also present on the occasion.

The Prime Minister further disclosed that water availability had increased by 30 percent this year. "The government has made additional funds allocation of Rs60 billion for the uplift of rural areas, which would help create job opportunities for the rural people besides alleviating poverty from the country," he added. "The spending on rural areas has started producing positive results, including slowing down the rural urban migration, which has reduced the burden on big cities," he said.

Counting present government measures taken for the agriculture sector, he said, "we have imported urea fertilizer to overcome shortage so that farmers could enhance their productivity". Besides, he said, excise duty was reduced by 10 percent on the import of tractors. Presently, the country is facing shortage of tractors while two to three tractors manufacturing plants could not meet the demand, he added. However, with the setting up of this new tractor plant, the tractor production would be increased, which would help development of the agriculture sector, he maintained. Shaukat Aziz asked the leasing companies, commercial banks and other financial institutions to take steps for providing tractors to the farmers on leasing basis.

 

 

He stressed the need for adopting mechanized farming under the concept of globalization; otherwise the country would lag behind. As a result of government's policies to reduce the role of middlemen, the farmers would be able to sell their products at market price, he added. Highlighting the importance of agriculture sector, the Prime Minister said this sector alone contribute 60 percent to the GDP of the country. Similarly, Pakistan had shown significant development in dairy sector where it stands sixth among 10 biggest milk-producing countries in the world. Due to government efforts, the agriculture sector made considerable development during the last two years, he added. He stressed the need for hardworking and said no power in the world could stop Pakistan from making progress. "Pakistan's progress is progress of the Islamic countries," said the Pakistani premier.

After his meeting with Ch. Shujaat Hussain about Balochistan, the Prime Minister expressed the firm resolve of his government that the Balochistan issue would be amicably addressed through dialogue in an atmosphere of goodwill and understanding so that peace could be maintained for the progress and development of the country.

The Prime Minister was glad to know that the talks in Dera Bugti were held in an atmosphere of goodwill and understanding. He reiterated that the security of national installations would be ensured at all costs. The PML President and General Secretary also apprised the Prime Minister of their recent visit to India and termed it fruitful. The Prime Minister expressed the hope that the visit would further improve the atmosphere and environment between the two countries.

Addressing party workers from Karachi, Shaukat Aziz urged the PML workers to follow the guiding principles of the Quaid-e-Azam and asked to maintain the pace for progress and prosperity in the country attained during the last five years.

He said policies and reforms followed in recent years had earned a rightful place for the country in the comity of nations. "With the hard work from all of us, Pakistan is progressing and moving ahead on the road to development," he said. PML President Ch. Shujaat Hussain in his brief remarks lauded the efforts of the PML, Karachi division in carrying out organization of party in a short span of time.

Governor NWFP, Khalil-ur-Rehman called on the Prime Minister and exchanged views with him on matters pertaining to the province with special reference to the development of tribal areas. Talking to the Governor, the Prime Minister assured that federal government would continue its assistance for speedy development of NWFP particularly in the tribal areas of the country. He urged the need to focus on progress for provision of health and education facilities, supply of safe drinking water and construction of roads.

The Prime Minister lauded the patriotism of the people of Tribal Areas and said they have distinguished themselves for having rendered great sacrifices for the country.

He expressed the confidence that owing to continued efforts of the government, the under-developed areas of the country would be brought at par with the developed ones, especially FATA. The overall security situation of the province as well as tribal areas also came under discussion.

Prime Minister has also approved a countrywide program worth Rs2.5 billion for prevention and control of hepatitis in the country, which will be called Prime Minister's Program for Prevention and Control of Hepatitis. The approval was accorded by the Prime Minister at a high level meeting held at the Prime Minister House. Shaukat Aziz said that more than 5 million people are suffering from this deadly disease in the country and the government has decided to combat it on war footing.

The program envisages free treatment of the patients along with increasing public awareness regarding preventive methods. He expressed his government's firm determination to make all efforts for checking and preventing the deadly disease.

The Prime Minister also dissected the Ministry of Health to make arrangements for the treatment of 5,000 chronic patients every year free of cost, as the treatment of hepatitis is very costly. The national strategy for prevention and controlling hepatitis focuses on supply of safe drinking water, safe injections, medical devices and proper waste management in addition to safety of blood and blood products. It also involves creating greater public awareness regarding preventive methods with the help of media.