ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Friday said that the recently signed agreement with Qatari government for import of Liquefied Natural Gas was a breakthrough for Pakistan’s self-sufficiency in energy.
“The recent landmark LNG agreement, that has been signed with the Government of Qatar with complete transparency at a very low price, will not only cater for the CNG sector, industrial, commercial and domestic consumers but will also help in reinvigorating country’s non-efficient power generation plants into high efficiency low cost power plants,” he said talking to a group of leading businessmen of the country in a meeting held at the PM House.
The Prime Minister informed them that when the present government came into power, the country was confronted with security, energy and the economic crises and was virtually leading towards bankruptcy.
“However, the government took vital and bold decisions to improve the macro-economic situation in the country simultaneously with robust and positive initiatives to achieve macroeconomic stability,” he remarked.
The Prime Minister said that the government placed massive cuts on its non-development expenditures to create space for development spending.
Energy sector was put on priority to generate 10,000 MWs of affordable electricity till 2018 that would lead to end of load-shedding and reduction in cost of electricity, he added.
The businessmen lauded the Prime Minister’s leadership for achieving macroeconomic stability and economic turnaround after significant improvements through prudent economic policies, efficient and transparent management and deployment of available resources and massive impact through project finance.
They also appreciated the investment of over US$ 46 billion through China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and improvements in the overall security situation of the country during the last two and a half years.
They observed that confidence of the business community to invest in diverse economic fields has been reinforced through business friendly policies of the government.
The Prime Minister informed the meeting that the Qatari leadership had immense love and affection for Pakistani diaspora.
After witnessing the JF-17 Thunder and Super Mashaq show in Qatar earlier this week, they felt pride in the technological advancement and excellence of Pakistan’s defence production industry.
The Prime Minister announced that the government of Qatar had decided to employ an additional one hundred thousand skilled Pakistanis in near future.
The participants briefed the Prime Minister about existing business environment in Pakistan and shared their proposals for achieving rapid growth in Pakistan’s economy.
They particularly referred to reforms in Federal Board of Revenue in the backdrop of coercive and exploitative measures against businessmen in the past and appreciated government’s resolve for creating a conducive environment for tax payers.
The business leaders also requested the Prime Minister for zero rated sales tax regime for export sector to facilitate export led growth.
The Prime Minister agreed to this proposal and directed for introducing the regime from July 1, 2016.
The businessmen also shared their proposals for encouraging youth in Pakistan through establishment of start-up businesses which was a rapidly growing phenomenon these days.
The Prime Minister constituted a committee to evaluate the proposals given by the participants to furnish firm recommendations within next 10 days to reach at final decision.
Prime Minister Nawaz appreciated the input of the businessmen and said that the private sector had a key role in Pakistan’s economic growth and he believed in broadening the tax base without harassing business community. Adversarial relations between tax machinery and tax payers must end in the best interest of the country, the Prime Minister added.
The meeting was also attended by Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, Minister for Finance Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal and other senior officials of the government.