President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Wednesday that every possible facility will be provided to the business community to bolster trade activities in the country. The President and Prime Minister expressed these views in a meeting with a delegation of businessmen and industrialists here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr.
The Prime Minister earlier held a one-on-one meeting with the President. President Mamnoon said the importance of strong economy has increased manifold in the era of globalisation and termed liberal trade policies a vital factor in this regard.
He said the government is sincerely taking steps in the right direction for the improvement of national economy and promotion of business activities. He urged the business community to benefit from the trade policies of the government and mentioned the flexible business policies of the country.
The President said that law and order situation and energy crisis are major impediments towards smooth continuation of business activities in the country, however expressed hope that these issues would be overcome soon. Prime Minister Sharif said the government is taking steps towards facilitating businesspeople. He mentioned that the country was facing big challenges of terrorism and energy shortages, and added that efforts were afoot to meet these challenges and increase electricity generation. Besides, he said the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to meet energy demand. He said infrastructure development was the government’s major priority and said a motorway would be constructed from Lahore to Karachi.
Sharif said, “We have discouraged lethargy in the government’s decision-making and are bringing an economic turnaround in the country.” He said economic indicators are improving, foreign currency reserves and stock market are high and rupee was stable against dollar. The Prime Minister said a 20-point agenda has been prepared for rooting out terrorism and extremism from the country. He said the 21st Amendment and the amendment to the Army Act are important steps “to clear this mess.”
He said swift justice is key to eradicating terrorism and the people spreading hatred and sectarianism would be tried in military courts. He said the Operation Zarb-e-Azb has played an important role in dismantling terror infrastructure and those terrorising society in the name of religion will be brought to justice.
Under the National Action Plan, another operation was being launched to make the country peaceful, he added. “These decisions have been taken in national interest and should have been taken earlier,” he said. The PM said the government will give incentives to the business community and said steps will be taken to woo overseas Pakistanis to invest in Pakistan. He asked the Federal Board of Revenue to consider decreasing tax rates to encourage more people pay taxes resulting in larger revenue collection. He directed the Chairman FBR to hold a meeting with members of the business community to sort out their issues and apprise him personally on the outcome.
The Prime Minister also directed the Ministry of Water and Power and Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB) to expedite approvals of pending cases of power plants and immediately remove all hurdles. The businesspeople gave relevant suggestions to the President and the Prime Minister. They regarded the unity displayed by all parties on the issue of terrorism as a good omen. The meeting was informed that overseas Pakistanis are sending 25 billion dollars annually through different channels, and also Free Trade Agreement 2 is being negotiated with China. It will be independent of FTA 1, signed nine years ago. Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Minister for Water and Power Khwaja Asif, Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Chairman FBR and Secretary Water and Power were present.