CPEC to bring new wave of development: Ahsan Iqbal

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FAISALABAD, June 6 (APP): Federal Minister for Planning Development
and Reform Ahsan Iqbal said on Monday that business community should play a proactive role to establish special CPEC Cells in various chambers to fully exploit the opportunities to bring Pakistan in to 25 major economies of the world by 2025.

Addressing the business community of Faisalabad at Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI), he said that when PML-N government came into power, the unemployment was at the highest level in the country, workers as well as industrialists were on roads, foreign exchange reserves were dwindling to 10 billion dollars.

“Besides all these problems the government managed to bring qualitative change and now within a short span of three years, our economy is at a takeoff position”, he added.

He said that Prime Minister during his first visit to China on July 5,
2013 signed a Memorandum of Understandings (MoU) for CPEC (China
Pakistan Economic Corridor) and the MoU has now become a huge portfolio of 46 billion dollars and all international think tanks were discussing its impacts on Pakistan and regional countries.

He said that CPEC would bring a new wave of development, progress and prosperity and particularly the business community should prepare itself to fully en-cash its benefits.

The minister said that loading shedding has reduced from 18 hours
to 6-8 hours. Similarly LNG terminal has been completed within a record period of 11 months. Our foreign exchange reserves have also jumped to 21.6 billion dollars. Our growth rate is 4.7 percent which was highest in the last 8 years.
He said that our GDP target in next year is 5.7 percent and the
incentive offered to industry and agriculture sectors would certainly
help us to achieve this target.

However, we have to take our GDP to 6 percent by 2018 to achieve the
required GDP target.

Ahsan Iqbal said that world economists were terming Pakistan as one of
the fastest growing economy but we have to concentrate to attract foreign investment and to achieve it political stability, security, sound economic policies and reliable infrastructure were essential elements.
He said that during last 15 years no major infrastructure project has
been undertaken. Our critics were now realizing that without infrastructure we cannot give quantum jump to our economy.

He said that 35 billion dollars have been allocated for energy related
projects in CPEC.

“We have coal reserves in Thar from which we could generate 5000
megawatt electricity annually for at least 400 years”, he added.
He further said that work on Lawari Tunnel has started. Pakistan
Railway was ignored by previous governments but we have allocated hefty money for it during last and current year budget.

Responding to a question about direct benefits of CPEC to Faisalabad,
he said that Faisalabad is one of the main load centers of electricity and certainly it will get maximum benefits from the new energy projects completed under CPEC.

Continuing, he said that after completion of major infrastructure
projects, economic zones would be established in various parts of the country and our private sector has to work on it by searching potential partners for joint ventures.

Earlier in his address of welcome, FCCI President Chaudhary Muhammad
Nawaz paid best tributes to Ahsan Iqbal for his vision 2025 to put country on road to progress and prosperity.

FCCI senior vice president Syed Zia Alamdar Hussain thanked the present government for declaring 5 export sectors zero rated and said that government has attained major achievements.

Various economic parameters were in the right direction. Electricity and
gas were available round the clock. Later, a shield was presented to the minister.