Lahore : Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif presided over a special meeting of provincial cabinet, here today. Provincial Ministers, Advisors, Special Assistants, Chief Secretary, senior officials as well as new members of the provincial cabinet were present.
The Chief Minister congratulated new Ministers, Advisors and Special Assistants and said that their induction in the cabinet is the result of grace of Allah Almighty and their abilities and hard work. He said that Punjab government has set new records of public service and the people of the province expect from that they will spare no effort in the service of the people.
The Chief Minister stressed upon the new ministers to leave no stone unturned in the service of the masses as it will win them blessings of Allah Almighty and prayers of crores of people. He said that their new assignment demands from them commitment to the betterment of the masses and solution of their problems. He said that the new members of the cabinet should utilize all their energies in the service of the people to be successful. He said that though cabinet should have been expanded along ago but there were some reasons for delay.
He said that besides sit-ins and protest politics, there were innumerable issues due to which cabinet was not expanded. He said that there are still one and a half years left of the tenure of the present government and there is a need to work round the clock for the uplift of education, health, agriculture, industries and other sectors. He said that such decisions will have to be taken and implemented as could benefit maximum number of people.
Shahbaz Sharif expressed the hope that the new ministers will work as a team and will engage themselves in public service. He said that all problems can be resolved if determined efforts are made. He said that the oath taken by the new Ministers today demand they will set aside their personal interests and likes and dislikes and give preference to the interests of the country and the people.
He said that the new members of the cabinet will have to prove through their performance and hard work that their selection was right and they should work for development of health, education, agriculture, law and order and other sector without wasting any time. He said that they should spend minimum time in Lahore and live with the people and resolve their problems as it will earn them respect and honor.
Referring to the steps taken for the welfare and betterment of the people during last three and a half years, the Chief Minister said that under the leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Muslim League-N government has brought about improvement in every sector. He said that Prime Minister had promised to the people in general elections of 2013 that all out measures will be taken for resolving energy crisis and elimination of terrorism and the performance of the government in this regard remained unprecedented. He said that political and military leadership worked very hard to root out the menace of terrorism and the results are before the nation.
He said that due to unanimous decisions taken by the political and military leadership, tremendous successes have achieved in the war against terrorism and a new history has been written with regard to Operation Zarb-e-Azb. Shehbaz Sharif said that brave armed forces of Pakistan have rendered supreme sacrifices in the war against terrorism and officers and Jawans of police, citizens, children, mothers as well as members of all segments of the society have also embraced martyrdom.
He said that a new history of sacrifices has been written and it is due to this that incidents of terrorism have reduced substantially. He said that the way political and military leadership have taken decisions the day is not far when the menace of terrorism will be rooted out. He said that Pakistan will be purged of terrorism and extremism and the sacrifices of the martyrs will not go to waste.
The Chief Minister congratulated Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and authorities concerned and commended their role in the war against terrorism. He also paid tributes to the supreme sacrifices of the martyrs and said that the nation salutes them.
Referring to the measures taken by the present government for controlling power crisis, Shahbaz Sharif said that in the tenure of former federal government, economy of Punjab was destroyed through curtailing supply of electricity and gas and the development projects were hampered due to non-availability of power. He said that Balochistan and Sindh have gas reserves whereas gas has also been found in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa.
He said that though Punjab does not have gas but it has been blessed by Allah Almighty with other resources. He said that Punjab has fertile lands and its agriculture sector has great potential. He said that 400 megawatt solar power project in Bahawalpur is generating electricity.
He said that Punjab government has set up a 100 megawatt solar power project in the desert of Bahawalpur with its own resources. He said that when this project was set up, the NEPRA tariff was 17.1 cent but when this project was completed by the provincial government with hard work and transparency, NEPRA brought down tariff rate to 14 cent. He said that due to the efforts and transparency of Punjab government, NEPRA had to revise its tariff rate to the benefit of power consumers and now NEPRA has fixed tariff rate at 10.50 cent and it is hoped that with the completion of the projects, NEPRA will bring down tariff rate to six or seven cents.
Shahbaz Sharif said that performance of NEPRA is zero and it is also covering up cases of corruption. Commenting on gas power projects of 3600 megawatts in Punjab, he said that under the leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, tremendous work is being carried out on these projects. He said that NEPRA has given tariff rate of 10.50 cent for these projects and when the financial closure of these projects was made, NEPRA was compelled to lower the tariff rate to 6.50 cent.
He said that despite delaying tactics of NEPRA, the speed of work on these projects is unprecedented. He said that a huge sum of Rs. 112 billion of the nation has been saved in these projects and credit for this goes to Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and the efforts and transparency of the provincial government due to which NEPRA had to bring down tariff rate.
He said that NEPRA should account for its performance to the nation. He said that NEPRA has caused more damage to power sector than anyone else.
The Chief Minister said that among gas power projects, the trial of turbine of Bhiki project will start in December 2016 and this project will start single phase power supply from February/March 2017. He said that this project will supply 750 megawatt electricity from April/May, 2017. Similarly, he said, gas power project at Haveli Bahadar Shah Jhang will supply 750 megawatts power from June/July whereas gas power project at Baloki will start generating 750 megawatts electricity from August/September. As such these three projects will produce 3600 megawatts electricity by December 2017, he added.
The Chief Minister said that the speed of work on these projects is unprecedented in the history of Pakistan. He said that work is in progress on Neelam-Jhelum hydro power project from 2005 in the tenure of former dictator Musharraf and at that time the cost of this project was low but now after 11 years this project is still crawling and its cost has risen to 4.5 billion dollars.
He said that this project is still incomplete despite passage of 11 years. Similarly, he said, a minister in PPP tenure buried the file of Nandipur power project in his drawer and the equipment of this project become rusty at Karachi Port. He said that the letter of credit of these gas projects was opened in September 2015 and these projects will be operational next year which will be unprecedented in the history of Pakistan.
He said that 1320 megawatt Sahiwal coal power project which was to be completed in 2017 will be completed in May/June 2017 much before stipulated period. Similarly, he said, 1320 megawatt coal power project at Port Qasim will also start power production in 2017. He said that projects were delayed in the past for corruption and misappropriation of billions of rupees but the present government is ensuring transparency due to which projects are being completed speedily besides saving of billions of rupees has also been made.
He said that PML-N government is writing a new chapter of transparency and hard work. He said that the new ministers will have to work with the same speed at which projects are being executed in the tenure of PML-N. He said that the new members of the cabinet should dedicate all their energies to service of the people and strive for solution of problems of the masses in every corner of Punjab. Shehbaz Sharif said that meaningless sit-ins were staged in Islamabad in 2014 due to which eight months of the nation were wasted.
He said that the investors left the country and all economic activities came to a halt but due to grace of Allah Almighty the country was rid of sit-ins. He said that the visit of Chinese President was postponed and those involved in sit-ins also rejected the request of Chinese Ambassador in this regard. He said that the elements engaged in sit-ins disregarded the interests of the country and they again tried to stage a show and if their attempt at lockdown had become successful it would have been lockdown of the country.
He said that Punjab government, cabinet committee on law and order, Provincial Minister for Law Rana Sanaullah, Chief Secretary, Inspector General Police, Secretary Home, Commissioners, RPOs, DCOs and DPOs worked round the clock to safeguard the interests of the country and foiled this conspiracy.
Shahbaz Sharif said that he had issued strict instructions to police not to carry bullets and his orders were obeyed. The Chief Minister stressed upon the ministers to work round the clock for the progress and prosperity of the masses and make honesty, hard work and commitment their motto. He assured them all out support in this regard.
He said that he will review performance of departments on regular basis and will encourage those who will work hard. He said that they will have complete powers and the concerned secretaries will be duty bound to implement their policies. He said that the new ministers will have to promote merit and show their best performance.
The meeting also offered Fateha for the departed soul of the father of Provincial Minister Haroon Sultan Bukhari as well as prayed for progress and prosperity of the country.