A WEEK OF DECISION MAKING
It was the week of decision making, as
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz announced various important policy decisions which
may have far reaching effects on the socio-economic fronts of the country.
One of the most important decisions
came in the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of Cabinet (ECC),
presided by the Prime Minister, was that the government would be extending Rs.
33.6 billion annual subsidy to loss-making electric power distribution companies
to ensure unified tariff for all end consumers in the country. The decision has
removed the lingering threat of increase in power rates for general consumers as
per recommendation of National Electric Power Regulator Authority (NEPRA).
The ECC meeting also approved policy
guidelines for independent power producers (IPPs) tariff determination, national
policy of power co-generation by sugar industry, package for production of clean
cotton, and transfer of Pakistan Steel Mills downstream industrial land to NIP.
The ECC approved a summary circulated by Secretary, Water and Power, in the
meeting regarding guidelines for tariff determination for independent power
producers (IPPs). After the meeting Dr. Ashfaque said that IPPs and different
government departments have disputes from time to time over the tariff issue and
there was need to take permanent parameters, making everything clear for the
investors. "We have resolved the tariff determination issue for the IPPs
once for all," he said.
After a meeting with the President and
his own cabinet during which the report of the technical committees on big water
reservoirs was discussed in depth, the Prime Minister launched a campaign for
Kalabagh and Bhasha dams declaring them a must to meet the looming water
shortage. The government has decided to develop political consensus on big water
reservoirs (Kalabagh and Basha dams) before taking any final decision but did
not give any timeframe. "Cabinet discussed the issue of mega water
reservoirs threadbare and decided to take all political parties into confidence
after which final decision will be taken," the Prime Minister observed.
The cabinet meeting presided over by
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, set aside the formal agenda because of thorny issue
of big reservoirs. The cabinet was to consider the issues like utility bills
collection facilitation to the general public, amendments in the deep sea
fishing policy and agreement on the establishment of a Norwegian Pakistan
Advisory Board on matters relating to marriage, family and children, arising out
Prime Minister termed the controversial
Kalabagh Dam as a national need and said that no 'round table conference' would
be convened on this issue but all political parties and individuals who have
concerns would be taken into confidence.
After meeting his party members in
Islamabad Prime Minister rushed to Karachi and held separate meetings at the
Chief Minister's House with legislators of Sindh Assembly belonging to Pakistan
Muslim League, independent MPAs of Pakistan Muslim League (F), MQM and discussed
on steps required to be taken to overcome the shortage of water reservoirs in
Pakistan. He told them that the government had received three reports prepared
by the committees setup to look into the water reservoirs issue. This includes
the report prepared by the technical committee headed by ANG Abbasi. All the
reports will be made public through media and presented to the National and
The Prime Minister said that there is a
consensus in all the three reports that water reservoirs needed to be built on
urgent basis to meet the shortage of water for irrigation and better development
of agricultural sector, which is the backbone of the economy. However, this is a
very important matter of national importance and the government will consult and
take into confidence all provinces and stakeholders on the issue and the final
decision will be taken with consensus of all stakeholders, he added. He said the
government would hold a series of meetings to consult the parliamentarians
including the parties in government, opposition as well as NGOs, members of
civil society etc. on the issue of water reservoirs. However, the decision has
to be taken soon and it cannot be postponed any further, he added.
Speaking at the ground breaking
ceremony of first phase of 225 MW Balloki Combined Cycle Power Plant at Balloki
(Kasur), launched by Orient Power Company (Pvt) Limited, the Prime Minister said
the government was pursuing a comprehensive programme to meet energy
requirements of the country's growing economy with special focus on
participation of the private entrepreneurs in this sector. Energy plays an
important role in the growth of an economy and Pakistan has taken steps to
ensure that it remains a driving force through its sustained increase, he added.
Governor Punjab Lt. General (Retd)
Khalid Maqbool, Chief Minister Ch. Pervaiz Elahi, Federal Minsiter for Water and
Powser Liaquat Ali Jatoi, Chief Executive Orient Power Company (Pvt) Limited
Nadeem Babar, provincial ministers, parliamentarians, and Chairman Wapda
attended the event. The Prime Minister said structural reforms in different
sectors including energy have lent impetus to the economy and the country
achieved the GDP growth rate of 8.4 achieved last year. "We have fixed
GDP's annual growth target at 6 to 8 percent and would hopefully achieve it this
year also." The Prime Minister said "we are one of the fastest growing
economies of the world and would require huge investment of around rupees one
trillion over next four years in energy sector of the country to maintain this
growth rate", he said adding that the Economic Coordination Committee of
Cabinet in its meeting took decisions to facilitate investment in this sector.
The role of concerned departments including WAPDA, NEPRA, PPIB etc has been
clearly defined with clear policy guidelines for approval of projects.
Stating that energy security was of
vital importance for any country, the Prime Minister said government was fully
aware of it and is determined to exploit all resources of energy. He said
government was pursuing a comprehensive programme to meet energy requirements of
the country's growing economy with special focus on participation of the private
entrepreneurs in this sector.
The Prime Minister said some six years
back, the country's economy was in crisis with power sector facing a host of
problems including high tariff and IPPs issue. However, with the special
attention of President Musharraf "we not only rationalized tariff structure
and resolved IPPs issue, but also evolved a framework to ensure sustained growth
of energy sector."
Inaugurating the 10th session of the
Asian Pacific Telecommunity (APT) in Islamabad the Prime Minister disclosed that
new undersea cable would be operational next month that would provide Pakistan
with more options of Internet and digital connectivity with the world. A fault
in an undersea fibre-optic cable in June this year had disrupted Pakistan's data
communication links with the outside world and disturbed Internet and data feed
lines. But with new cables, the premier said that such disruption would never
occur in future. He said, the country will have redundancy in both land and sea
routes as the country also uses satellite as a backup.
"But the country of our size,
growing the way we are, we need many different options to connect with the
world," he said, adding the government was going to explore more avenues
and would encourage the private sector to put an undersea cable. He held out a
firm assurance that the government would ensure level playing field to every
Unveiling the plague of Old Pier-II
completed by Karachi Port Trust at Keamari, the Prime Minister said the four
element planning for the next five years involve refurbishing and
reconstructing, enhancement and modernization of the rail, road, sea and air
infrastructure of the country.
Starting with the port he said deep
water draft and terminal and various projects were coming up at Port Qasim,
besides a new port at Gwadar which is nearing completion. To make the port
sufficient for world's outsourcing, privatization and corporatization will be
the way of life. This is not rocket science, this is something the world has
already done and Pakistan is in a cluster mode. "I am very pleased that two
major container terminals at Karachi Port are being run by private enterprise,
which is exactly the way to go. And the same thing is happening at Port Qasim
and will happen at Gwadar Port," he added pointing out that these are
global businesses now as Pakistani ports will be receiving cargoes from all over
Talking about air travel and business
the Prime Minister said the government is getting in more airlines and some
major aircraft will start coming to Karachi and other cities of Pakistan in near
future. "Today's situation is such that no seat is available for coming in
or going out of Pakistan. This is unacceptable and we have to create capacity in
our own airlines and get foreign planes to come to Pakistan. We have to allow
access to our country develop and grow. We have to encourage airline business
and that calls for constructing more five star hotels as I was told that hotels
are full in Karachi and there is a long queue for bookings. I will encourage the
private sector to invest into this business and I am sure they will not regret
it," he assured promising full support of the government in that venture.
Speaking at the inaugural session of
'Industrial Conference' and Site Export Awards 2005 ceremony organized by Site
Association of Industry (SAI) at Karachi, Shaukat Aziz said that the government
was preparing a policy to expand the role of private sector in power generation.
He said he has discussed the issue with
his cabinet members and an announcement in this regard will be made in a few
weeks. He said that there was a severe shortage of power in the country and it
can only be met by expanding role of private sector in the area, adding the
government was ready to give all possible incentives to private sector to invest
in different areas of power production. He said that the government wants the
private sector to earn reasonably so as to reinvest in establishing more
industrial units in the country. The government has intended to achieve 25
percent industrial growth by 2010, he added.
There exist a skill gap in the country,
which needs to be filled, Prime minister Shaukat Aziz said while speaking as
chief guest at the inaugural session of an international conference at Karachi.
The moot was organized under the auspices of Beaconhouse System on "Towards
2035: The School of Tomorrow.
The Prime Minister pointed out that it
was ironic that Pakistan which has supplied labour and expertise to the world
for construction was today itself short of construction workers. He said there
is a skill gap in Pakistan which has to be filled through the public-private
partnership as no government can do it alone and the private sector has to play
a role in this regard.
Speaking at Agha Khan University's
Convocation 2005 at Karachi, the Prime Minister called upon students in
particular and people in general to realize that 21st century focuses on a
global society and knowledge based economies where education is to play a key
role. It will be educational quality of the work force that will determine the
country's economic performance. "To be a globally competitive player, we
need to acknowledge a new paradigm and our education system needs change,"
he further underscored the need for an educational culture that harnesses the
potential of country's younger generation completely and produces innovative
Addressing, particularly the medical
graduates, he said medical education has been aptly termed as the noblest of
professions which demands a blend of professional training with ethical values
and human attributes. Reiterating his commitment towards quality healthcare for
all in Pakistan, with major emphasis on prevention and control of diseases,
Shaukat Aziz said the government vision for health sector was based on health
for all. "We recognize that as a nation we have to continue work towards
universal, affordable, quality healthcare for every single Pakistani," he