ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said on Thursday the PML-N government would continue to work for the country’s progress and prosperity, and confront the forces having ‘negative agenda’ with the support of masses.
“We are working together for the country’s development and will also confront, along with you, those having negative agenda,” Nawaz Sharif told recipients of the cheques of interest-free loan under the PM’s Interest-Free Loan Scheme launched here at the PM Secretariat.
The today’s recipients of the interest-free loans hailed from the poor families of Haripur district.
The Prime Minister said before the launching of this scheme, he was told that giving loans to poor people was a risk as they would not pay back, but he opposed such ideas.
“I told them not to doubt the integrity of poor people, as they are the ones, who can lay down their lives for Pakistan and it is my agenda to give them loans,” Nawaz Sharif remarked amidst loud applause from the beneficiaries of the scheme.
The Prime Minister also mentioned other schemes initiated under the PM’s Youth Programme, including the Youth Loan Scheme, Fee Reimbursement Scheme and Laptop Scheme, which he said, would prove as the backbone of the country’s economic development.
“The doors of banks remained closed for the poor during the last 65 years and the present government has opened these doors for the first time for them, as the national kitty does not belong only to a special class, rather everyone has the right to it,” he remarked.
The Prime Minister said under the interest-free loan scheme, Rs 3.5 billion had been earmarked this year, which would be raised to Rs 10 billion during next four years. The loan amount ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000, would benefit the poor for establishing small businesses.
Fifty per cent of the total beneficiaries included women, who would work at par with the men for their own progress as well as for the country’s development, he added.
The Prime Minister said by introducing this scheme, he had fulfilled his promise made during the election campaign. Everyone could benefit from the scheme without any discrimination of political affiliation.
“We had ended this discrimination, when the nation had elected me as the Prime Minister of Pakistan and I have to serve the whole nation,” he remarked.
The Prime Minister referred to his visit to the site of Dasu Hydro Power Project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Wednesday and said the project worth billions of rupees would generate 4300 MW electricity.
It would be the largest power generation project in the country, which would help overcome electricity shortage, he added.
Similarly, the Prime Minister said the biggest Diamer Bhasha Dam would be constructed in Gilgit-Baltistan, which would produce 4500 MW electricity. The Ghazi Barotha Power Project was also an initiative of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
He said focus on such projects should have been given in the past. “Today we have only two big dams in the country, including Tarbela and Mangla, whereas we should have ten such dams,” he added.
The Prime Minister said countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, which were far behind Pakistan, were now ahead in terms of socio-economic development.
He said the PML-N government initiated motorways in 1991. Had work on infrastructure development continued, the poverty would have ended in the country, he remarked.
Now Lahore-Karachi Motorway was being constructed and then work on Gawadar-Kashgar Expressway would be undertaken, he added.
The Prime Minister said the PML-N government had a vision on energy, under which electricity tariff would be reduced gradually through cheaper power generation.
Every Pakistani should have only one agenda of development as the rest ones were negative, he remarked.
Referring to the 1998 nuclear explosions, Nawaz Sharif said when it was needed to show that the country’s defence was invinsible, “we made it a nuclear power.”
He, however, regretted that a nuclear country should not have problems like power crisis, gas shortage, unemployment etc. “A country of 180 million people, which is counted among the top 10 nations of world on the basis of its population, has mere exports of $ 25 billion and a low per capita income.”
The Prime Minister said the PML-N government, which had achieved a GDP growth of over 7 per cent in late 1990s, had now inherited a GDP growth of 2.9 per cent.
Later, the Prime Minister distributed cheques among beneficiaries from Haripur district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Some 175 persons received cheques of total Rs 3.9 million.
Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, speaking on the occasion, said political stability was must for a country’s progress. It was the right of 180 million people of Pakistan to see a five-year political stability. “No one can be allowed to play with this right,” he added.
Referring to the fast development in countries like China, Indonesia and Malaysia, he said only continuity of economic policies and political stability led to that level of development in those countries.
He said the continuity of policies was also vital to tackle challenges like poverty, inflation, energy shortage and economic stability.
“Pakistan only needs an industrial revolution and economic long march. All other revolutions can lead to destruction,” Ahsan Iqbal remarked.
Chairman Steering Committee for Prime Minister’s Interest Free Loan Programme Dr. Amjad Saqib, in his welcome remarks, highlighted the salient features of the interest-free loan scheme as well as its benefits to the socio-economic development in the country.
Chief Executive Officer of Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), Qazi Azmat Isa was also present on the occasion.