PM TRACKER
.
BUDGET WILL BRING GREAT RELIEF TO COMMON MAN

.
From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI,
 Islamabad

May 30 - June 05, 2005
.

 

 

 

Briefing the ruling coalition on the forthcoming budget and overall economic performance during the year last week, Prime Minister Shaukat said that budget 2005-06 would be pro-poor and pro-investors as improvement in these two areas is inevitable to help strengthen Pakistan's economy.

The forthcoming budget will carry a number of incentives for welfare of the downtrodden. He mentioned increase in minimum daily wages and upward salary revision of government officials aimed at improving the living standard.

Besides holding various meetings in connection with the budget 2005-06, Prime Minister presided over the annual convocations of Hamdard University and Institute of Business Administration in Karachi, launched a TV channel in private sector, unveiled a plague of an industrial site allocated by the Sindh Government in Karachi for SMEs units, addressed the editors of Sindh newspaper at Governor House Karachi, met a delegation of South Asian of Free Media Association in Islamabad inaugurated a Child Welfare & Protection Center at Islamabad, addressed the convention of lady health workers at Lahore, met former Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali and addressed a party meeting besides presided over a meeting on WAPDA.

Continuing his briefing to coalition partners on budget 2005-06 and overall economic conditions, the Prime Minister said that the government wants to increase income of the poor so that they could lead comfortable life and play a vibrant role in national progress. He said the government was fully aware of the problems of the people and the forthcoming budget would bring great relief to the common man. The government would allocate more funds, in the next budget for rural development schemes and health, education and poverty reduction program. The government would spend billions of rupees in the next fiscal year on safe drinking water availability program, he added.

He added that Pakistan's economy has shown robust growth of 8.35 percent in the current fiscal year, which was a pride for every Pakistani. "Today Pakistan stands tall among the world community as it needs not to go to any international donor agency to seek loans to run its day to day affairs", he claimed.

Addressing the annual plan of coordination committee, Shaukat Aziz said Pakistan's economy has achieved an impressive growth rate this year, as a result of which it will emerge as one of the top five fastest growing countries in Asia. This high growth rate of the gross domestic product had been possible owing to 7.5 percent increase in agriculture, 15.4 percent in large-scale manufacturing and 7.9 percent in the services sector. The prime minister observed that higher economic growth helped in creating jobs and improving the purchasing power of the people. It was also causing the emergence of middle class.

Shaukat Aziz told the meeting that Pakistan had achieved over 8 percent growth rate five times in its history 10.2 percent in 1953-54; 9.4 percent in 1964-65; 8.7 percent in 1983-84 and now repeated the same performance after a long gap during the current fiscal year. He congratulated the people in general and policy makers in particular for hitting 8.35 percent growth rate and expressed optimism that Pakistan would maintain the high tide by showing excellent performance in all areas in the future.

The Prime Minister said: "We as a nation are used to face the challenges upfront, and beat them with honour and dignity. He cited 1998 and its fallout when Pakistan tested nuclear device and faced challenges. He said that every time Pakistan proved that it was capable enough to face any challenge and translate it into big success. Pakistan took its sick economy as a challenge some six years back when President General Pervez Musharraf took over, "and today it stands among the nations, which have the highest growth rate in the region", he added .

 

 

He said the government had put in place a well thought out economic policy, which is based on three golden principles: deregulation, privatization and liberalization. The policy gave expected results to bring the national economy back on the right track. The government was pushing forward its reforms agenda to improve the efficiency of the key areas. He mentioned banking sector in particular which, in his opinion, has been performing extremely well. He said that 85 percent of the banks are now being managed by the private sector, and it was indicative of liberal economic policy of the government.

Speaking as Chief Guest at the "convocation 2005" of the Hamdard University at Karachi, Prime Minister said Pakistan needs to invest heavily in higher education and utilize its human resource development to play a vital role in the world. "We recognize that 21st century belongs to Asia and to accomplish this vision, education has a crucial role to perform", he said.

The Prime Minister stressed the need for an educational system that prepares citizens for the future challenges while preserving and enhancing "our values." The educational quality of the workforce would "determine our economic performance in the increasingly competitive world," he said. "We need to think carefully about what our students require. Certainly, they need a combination of academic orientation and technical skills, freedom to express their opinions within the parameters of our values, skills to market themselves in the domestic and international avenues." Integrity, diligence and teamwork are critical skills that would enable youngsters to push forward and create new opportunities for themselves and for Pakistan, he added. Shaukat Aziz stressed that teachers must arouse passion among the youth for knowledge, learning and excellence.

Pakistan has been endowed with great human capital that is second to none but the skill gap needs to be bridged, he noted. The premier pointed out that growth and human development are mutually reinforcing in nature. For this reason, the government's human resources development strategy is aligned with economic and social sector policies.

Unveiling the plague for an industrials state allocated by Sindh government for SMEs units the Prime Minister instructed that provincial government authorities to issue special instructions to personnel of official agencies to stop harassing small businessmen, traders and industrialists and bring them under the umbrella of self-assessment. Work of checks and inspections by different agencies may be handed over to one company to eliminate interference by officials, which is causing a lot of wastage of precious time of the industrialists that can be utilized for productive activities.

The Sindh government has allocated 100 acres of land on Northern Bypass and allocated Rs300 million initially for its development. Out of the total, 30 acres of plots have been reserved for women entrepreneurs. The Sindh Governor Dr Ishrat-ul-Ebad Khan, Chief Minister Dr. Arbab Ghulam Rahim and Minister for Industries, Labour and Transport Adil Siddique spoke on the occasion.

Addressing the concluding session of regional conference on violence against children, the Prime Minister said that children are our future and it is our responsibility to create a better, healthier and safer world for them. He said children were the best assets for the future and we must take every possible step to ensure that they get good education, health and environment for their spiritual, moral and social development.

The prime minister after meeting a delegation of Pakistan Teachers United Front at the Prime Minster House said the government holds teachers in high esteem and was striving to give them their due place in the society. He assured the teachers that their demands would be considered sympathetically and relief would be provided to government employees including the teachers in the forthcoming budget. He directed constitution of a 12-member committee, comprising representatives of teachers and government officials, to look into demands of the teachers.

Addressing Lady Health workers convention at Fortress stadium, the Prime Minister said that Lady Health workers are playing an important role in government's policy of providing health care facilities to people especially mother and child at their doorsteps. Provision of best health facilities to the people including those living in far flung areas is the top priority of the government for which not only budget allocations have been increased considerably but various policies have been evolved which is being pursued vigorously. "Not only government but also people as well as international community is appreciative of their commitment and dedication to their profession which they have shown in discharge of their duties helping cutting down mortality rate among mothers and new born."

The premier said that as a token of recognition of their commitment to their profession, "I feel proud to announce increase in their honorarium from Rs1700 to Rs2200 and supervisors' honorarium to Rs4000. "We are also appreciative of your role in campaigns against polio and tetanus and would continue efforts to increase facilities for you," said the Prime Minister.

Inaugurating a new TV channel Aaj in Karachi, Prime Minister emphasized that decision by present government are the product of national and priority agenda and are devoid of whims and figment of individual fantasies as President Musharraf and the Prime Minister are trying to forge ahead the same psyche and environment to enforce future decisions which are being made in national interest only.

He was of the view that creative and innovative energy that is available in depth and breadth has to be utilized to take the country forward. People need a platform and the government has opened the door of opportunity. He advised the professionals to open the door and just enter and improve quality of life, grab the opportunity and put in hard work to take Pakistan to new heights of excellence. The job of the government is to create the environment while the role of every individual is to move forward and reap rich harvest as long as the chances are made available, he added.

He assured to follow government's policy of proliferation in electronic media channels which has created tremendous opportunities for employment as there was dearth of professional people in this field. As the government has issued licenses to 37 channels in the country, the decision will open up new vistas for skilled persons who have the expertise in this sector. The creative energy that is required to fill up jobs in channels will automatically absorb hundreds of thousands of persons providing ample opportunities for employment. "We are not less than any television channel in the world as far quality of products is concerned. Our soap operas, dramas and musical programs are very popular in the world and that has been due to the tremendous resources of creative energy that Pakistan possesses," he said.

Talking to Editors of Sindhi Newspapers and electronic media at Governor House Karachi, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz urged to persuade local youth to acquire technical skills and better education to get jobs. "We want to provide jobs to locals and Sindh government was recruiting local people. But we need skilled and quality educated youth to get these jobs". "You owe to your children to provide them better education and skills so that they can get jobs", he noted. "My advice for you is to use all the powers you have at your disposal to underline the need for quality education and vocational skills for job creation in the province".

Replying to a question regarding jobs for local people, he said the media should promote quality education and vocational training in the province.

The prime minister said the country was facing a shortage of skilled manpower. "You must insist on vocational training." No nation can progress without education", he observed. He said the government was focusing on one village one product concept to boost industrialization in rural areas.

He said Hala can be picked for the manufacture of blue tiles and pottery, wooden furniture, Ajarak with the help of new design, bank credit and marketing. Government will provide expertise to the artisans of Sindh to improve quality of their products for value addition and exports, he offered.