Lahore: President Asif Ali Zardari Friday said that as part of liberal investment policy regime, the present government has embarked upon a policy of trade liberalization with India and other countries in the region including granting Most Favored Nation trading status to India.
Terming it a major policy shift, the President said that this shift was driven by the business sectors on both sides of the border and expressed the hope that it will benefit all besides contributing in the region’s economies and increasing its stability.
Speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Achievement Award ceremony 2012 held at Governor House, the President emphasized the need for continuity of economic policies.
He called upon the business community to take ownership of the policies as the absence of continuity of economic policies was a serious problem of the country’s development.
The President said it is the business community which should defend the economic policies even if governments change. “I am happy to say that last week I gave accent to a bill that will do exactly the same”, the President said expressing hope that it will ensure continuity of incentives given to entrepreneurs.
President Zardari said that no government will now be able to withdraw the incentives without Parliamentary debate and discussion.
Terming it a landmark development, he said, “The government have achieved political consensus on a number of issues adding that it was high time that we work for consensus of economic policies as well.”
The President commenting on energy issues in the country said that he was aware of the problems posed by the lack of energy and termed it the mother of all economic problems.
He however said that energy problem was also rooted in the reversal of the energy policy of the previous PPP government, adding that if the energy policy of the PPP government had not been reversed in mid nineties, perhaps there would have been no power crisis today.
The President emphasized the need to learn from the past adding that the energy crisis was a reminder to every one to recognize the importance of developing consensus on economic policies.
He said that the government was conscious of the electricity problem and was making efforts to increase the electricity production in the country besides diversifying sources of power generation as well.
The President said that increase in production of electricity must also accompany with reduction in the price of electricity.He said that the government has undertaken mega hydro projects including the construction of Basha Dam and raising of the Mangla dam project besides importing gas and electricity from other countries to address the energy problem.
Commenting on government’s efforts for achieving enhanced trade access to world markets, the President said that lack of access to international markets was yet another problem. “As a result of our efforts, the EU has given Pakistan Preferential Market Access,” said the President.He appreciated the EU for the move and said that Pakistan was seeking GSP Plus status and expressed the hope to achieve this status to further increase market access.
The President said that country’s access to markets was very poor however he reiterated that we want trade and not aid.Noting the impacts of Militancy and terrorism, the President said that the country has lost 44,000 nationals including six thousand military and police personnel in this fight against extremism and militancy which the country has been fighting for the past ten years.He said that the fight has had a very adverse impact on economy and development besides halting the progress of many social programs.
The President said,”The global financial crisis also hit Pakistan just as we began the transition from a military dictatorship to democracy.”He however added the situation was improving as a result of some hard decisions taken by the government.Recounting achievements on the economic front, the President said that tax collection, remittances from Pakistanis abroad and the country’s exports have increased significantly.He said that Karachi Stock Exchange KSE 100 Index now stands at 14,000 as compared to 6,000 points in 2008 when the present government took over.
The President said that the government was promoting an investor-friendly environment and offering the most liberal investment policy regime in the region which includes full repatriation of capital, capital gains, dividends and profits.Welcoming foreign investment, he said that the government has signed Business Investment Treaties with many nations and provide the best possible environment for foreign investment.
The President said, “We have to frame our policies in response to the ever increasing population.” He urged for gearing up efforts to meet the demands of the growing population on all fronts in the future.He said that for the first time in Pakistan’s history, a democratically elected government will complete a full five-year term next year.
The President said that he after assuming charge as President took no time and surrendered all his powers to the Parliament for the sake of betterment and prosperity of the people of the country and to make Pakistan more stable with strong and powerful Parliament.Welcoming the suggestions of businessmen, he said that the government has always been receptive to the ideas and suggestions o the business community as he want to make Pakistan a profitable place to do business.
The President suggested to the businessmen to share their ideas with the Government saying that the wisdom of Public and Private sector can help us achieve better results. “I have no doubt that with the help of private sector, our economy will further improve”, he said, adding that he was looking forward to a booming economy with determination and courage and expressed confidence to achieve it together.
The President applauded the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry for regularly holding Achievement Award ceremonies for the last eight years and said that such awards recognize the excellent performance of the entrepreneurs and motivate them to achieve even more.He congratulated Mr. Irfan Qaiser Shaikh, President Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry for holding the awards ceremony and said that he has often been meeting and speaking with the Chamber and Business community and values their advice in finding solutions to economic problems.He also urged the Government to interact with business community on a regular basis and benefit from their suggestions.
The President also congratulated all the winners of Achievement Award for their excellent performance.The ceremony was also attended by Punjab Governor Latif Khosa,
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira and
other officials from different departments.