PM TRACKER
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GOVT COMMITTED TO MEET FUTURE ENERGY NEEDS

 

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From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI,
Islamabad
Aug 29 - Sep 04, 2005
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Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz while presiding one of the various official meetings last week, gave the good news to the nation that his government has resolved to supply electricity to all by the year 2007. He made this commitment while addressing a meeting that reviewed future energy needs of the country, saying that the government will soon announce the new gas policy in order to ensure uninterrupted supply of energy to both industrial and domestic consumers.

Through another initiative Prime Minister summoned the representatives of the stock exchanges and the officials of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and resolved the lingering tussle between the stock brokers and the regulatory authority over the issue of Badla Financing which has led to an almost turnout in the stock markets for the last many months. He also called a meeting to review the prices of cement & sugar, attended a presentation by the Oil & Gas Development Corporation and directed them to redouble their efforts with regard to exploration of oil and gas in the country for sustaining growth momentum in economy. He assured that the missile programme will continue, adding that Pakistan Air Force will be modernized and strong armed forces will be maintained at all cost. At a press conference in Karachi and in a press statement issued in Islamabad, the Prime Minister expressed his full satisfaction over the first phase of local bodies election which he said were free and fair and the turnout showed public trust in the present system.

Addressing a meeting that reviewed future energy needs of the country, he said to sustain the present momentum of economic growth in order to meet rising energy demands and provide electricity to all by 2007 the government has chalked out a comprehensive strategy. Elaborating, he informed the meeting attended among others by PM's Energy Adviser Mukhtar Ahmad and Planning Commission's Deputy Chairman Akram Shaikh, that the strategy included intensive exploration of gas within the country as well as its import, besides enhancing power generation and encouraging use of alternate energy resources.

"We need more storage capacity so that we can not only meet our growing energy demands but also cater to our irrigation needs," he said adding that the government would provide alternate energy from solar and windmill resources to those areas which cannot be provided electricity through the main Wapda grid, as it is committed to provide electricity to every village by 2007.

The Prime Minister was informed during the meeting that in compliance with the government policy, as many as 9,467 villages have been electrified during the year and the remaining villages would be provided electricity by 2007. He was also informed that 12,202 tubewell connections have been given to farmers during the year and that 11,200 more connections will be given next year.

After a meeting with the members of the stock exchanges and the SECP officials, the Prime Minister said that the government has decided to replace Badla Financing with Continuous Refunding System (CFS) to ensure stability in the stock markets of the country. He said that the government does care about the stock exchanges and wanted to do more for them through a series of reforms. Prime Minister said that the government wanted that the stock markets should grow in an orderly manner through a transparent system. He said the reforms process would continue so that the functioning of stock markets could improve to the confidence of investors and provide security to their investment. The increase in the number of companies in the stock exchanges indicated the confidence of the investors in the government policies. The Prime Minister said all the economic indicators are moving in right direction and hoped that after implementation of reforms, the stock exchanges would improve their activities. He assured the members of the stock exchanges to resolve their problems so that they could concentrate on their business and bring more local and foreign investment.

While presiding over a meeting to review the cement & sugar prices, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz directed the Ministry of Industries to engage with the cement industry, motivating them to increase the production and supply in the market to keep the prices at reasonable level. He took stock of the supply, demand and prices of cement and sugar in the country. The meeting expressed concern over the increase in the prices of cement and the Prime Minister expressed the hope that the cement industry would act responsibly and expand production, and avoid hoarding. The meeting also expressed satisfaction over the current stock position of sugar in the country and appreciated the role of Utility Stores Corporation in providing sugar at the price fixed by the government to the consumers.

Shaukat Aziz said that he was personally monitoring the availability and prices of sugar in the country and would continue surprise visits to the USC outlets to ensure availability of sugar at reasonable prices. The meeting was attended among others by Minister of Industries Jehangir Tareen, Minister of State for Finance Umer Ayub Khan and Salman Shah, Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance.

Attending a presentation by the OGDC, the Prime Minister directed the organization to redouble its effort with regard to exploration of oil and gas in the country for sustaining the growth momentum in economy. He was informed that OGDC plans to drill 57 wells this year and drill 107 wells in the next year.

The Prime Minister directed that in pursuance of the government's strategy to further develop the energy resource, the OGDC should aggressively market itself, bring in new latest technology and use all the resources at its disposal to increase oil and gas production in the country. He said that with the increase in demand for energy owing to a growing economy, the role of OGDC has become all the more critical in beefing up government's efforts to expand, explore and enhance new resources of energy. He also directed OGDC that the proven reserves in Ucch, Qadirpur and Sinjhiro be developed on fast track basis so that these resources could be utilized as early as possible, thereby making a substantial contribution towards overall development of the country. The presentation was attended among others by Amanullah Khan Jadoon, Minister for Petroleum, Mukhtar Ahmad, Advisor to Prime Minister on Energy, representative of OGDC and senior officials of the government.

On the occasion of his visit to Joint Staff Headquarters Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said that robust armed forces were essential for the security and solidarity of the country and that Pakistan was fully capable of foiling any attempt against its integrity. During the visit he was given a detailed briefing on the role and tasks of Joint Staff Headquarters, Pakistan Defence Doctrine and Armed Forces Development Plan 2019. The Prime Minister was also apprised about progress on various important aspects including on going projects. The briefing was attended by Defence Minister, Secretary Defence, Secretary Defence Production, Secretary Finance and senior officers from Army, Navy and Air Force.

Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee highlighted Pakistan's ongoing defence cooperation with various countries in the world and underlined its importance to continue in the pro-active manner. The prime minister appreciated the important tasks being performed by Joint Staff Headquarters. He reiterated that strong armed forces are the requirement for the security and solidarity of Pakistan, adding the government is and shall continue to meet all defence needs. Making it clear that Pakistan's military preparedness and plans are not aggressive, he stressed that it wants peace with its neighbours on the basis of sovereign equality and mutual respect. However, he cautioned that our peaceful intentions should not be viewed as a weakness. "Pakistan cannot be coerced and is capable of thwarting any attempt on its security and solidarity," the Prime Minister said, adding that in the wake of the ten-year Indo-US defence agreement and the Indo-US nuclear agreement, Pakistan needs to be even more conscious of its defence needs.

With the US now transferring ballistic missile defence (BMD) system to India, the recent successful testing of the first cruise missile, Babur (Hatf VII), couldn't have come at a more opportune time. "In addition to boosting our confidence that we are fully aware of our defence needs and capabilities we will continue to enhance and develop our armed forces and weapons systems to keep up with the geo strategic changes in our region."

The Prime Minister said it is great responsibility to safeguard our independence. Pakistan today is a nuclear power and no one can cast an evil eye on our beloved country. He announced that Pakistan would continue the process of improving the country's nuclear and missile capabilities to keep pace with the changing scenario. He said its most recent example is successful test firing of Babar cruise missile. The Prime Minister said Pakistan is pursuing an independent foreign policy and would make every possible contribution for regional peace and security.

Addressing the flag-hosting ceremony at the Convention Center at Islamabad on the 58th Independence Day, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said that Pakistan is a moderate and enlightened country and the masses will unitedly defeat the menace of extremism and terrorism. The defence of the country was very strong, he said, adding: "we can defend our independence". He said that defending the independence of the country is important responsibility of every one. In last 58 years, Pakistan had many success stories of defending the country in an effective manner.

Referring to the successes achieved in the field of economy, Mr. Shaukat Aziz said over the past six years the country achieved tremendous economic growth and today our economy is on strong footing. He vowed that benefits of economic progress would be passed on to the masses for their betterment. He pointed out that for the first time 313 billion rupees have been earmarked this year for development activities.

Addressing a press conference at Governor House Karachi, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said that overall 45.7 percent turnout of voters in the first phase of local bodies elections is highly encouraging and was an indictor of growing public confidence in the system. He expressed satisfaction over the peaceful and transparent conduct of elections in all provinces. The turnout of 62.2 percent in Punjab, 46.4 percent in Sindh, 43.7 percent in NWFP and 30.5 percent in Balochistan is reflective of the people's confidence in the local government system, he observed. "Masha Allah, it is a good turnout and it shows that this system has taken firm roots and has improved the image of democratic process."

The prime minister said the first phase of elections passed off smoothly, except for a few minor incidents, most of which took place in the post election period. "In our political culture, those who face defeat, never concede defeat. People should now go beyond the thinking that everything is all right if they are victorious and everything is not all right if defeated. Political maturity demands that those facing defeat should concede defeat," he said.

About allegations of irregularities in the elections, the prime minister said Pakistan is a big country and thousands of polling stations had been set up in the length and breath of the country. He said if anyone had any complaint against violation of the code of conduct, the legal course is available to follow. He said the results of the first phase elections show that people believe in moderation, as they brought moderate panels or groups of candidates to the fore.

He appreciated what he described as good work done by the Sindh government, the governor, chief minister, members of the cabinet, the federal and provincial agencies and the Election Commission in conducting the first phase of local bodies elections during which no major incident occurred. He referred to the campaign carried out to create tension and fear in Karachi and thanked Allah Almighty that nothing serious happened on the election day. He claimed all out efforts were made to keep the law and order under control throughout the country. He assured that the administration would ensure full compliance with the code of conduct, and whosoever would breach the conduct he would have to face immediate action.