FAISALABAD, Sep 3 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Saturday said that previous governments must be called to account for energy and economic crises that dragged the country into darkness and made it lose the distinctive status of best economy in South Asia.
“In 1960 we were ahead of South Korea in development. In 1990, we were the best in the region. In 1999, we were the top economy in South Asia but in 2013, we stood in the last,” the prime minister said in his address at the inauguration ceremony of the 40 megawatts (MW), coal fired power project at Sitara Chemical Industries Ltd (SCIL) here.
The prime minister was accompanied by Governor Punjab Malik Rafiq Rajwana, Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif, Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir and Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali.
The 40 MW coal power plant at Sitara Chemical Industries Ltd is the largest of its kind in the industrial sector of Faisalabad. Sitara Chemical Industries Ltd is the flagship company of Sitara Group.
The prime minister unveiled the plaque of the project that has been completed within 27 months costing Rs 3.5 billion.
The prime minister said a dictator had ruled the country for seven years before the five-year term by another government.
“They will have to account for it. History will never pardon them,” the prime minister remarked.
He said the country could never progress amid energy crisis and reiterated that 2018 would be the year of an end to load shedding.
The prime minister lauded the services of Chairman Sitara Chemical Industries Mian Idrees in business sector as well as for charity and public welfare, truly following the footprints of latter’s father Haji Bashir.
He said it was pleasing the investment was increasing, both in the public and private sectors after the government successfully tackled the challenges of energy crisis and terrorism.
“Some two years ago, there was electricity, neither for industrial nor the domestic consumers. There used to be protest demonstrations everywhere against load shedding of up to 12 hours. But today, the industry was being supplied uninterrupted power supply,” he said.
The prime minister said besides ending the load shedding, the government was also striving for low-cost power generation to reduce the commodity prices and enhance country’s exports.
He said the increased revenue could bring in development projects to country, improve health and education sectors, road infrastructure besides ultimately alleviating poverty and unemployment.
He said after 1998, the previous government failed to expand motorway network from ahead of Lahore that was supposed to connect with Karachi and Gwadar.
“But now we are heading forward. Work on Lahore-Multan-Sukkur Motorway was underway. Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway was also being constructed. Work on Sukkur-Hyderabad Motorway will start by this year’s end or early next year. After this, we will be proud to have motorway from Karachi to Peshawar,” the prime minister said.
He said the highways and motorways were being constructed in every nook and cranny of Balochistan and Hazara Motorway, being built in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, would be completed by next year. Another motorway between Shorkot and Gojra was under construction, he added.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in absence of better road infrastructure, the businessmen could not transport their products to local or international markets. He also mentionined the government’s project of farm to market road.
He said the national economy was in take-off position after the government’s successful efforts against terrorism and for economic revival that was also being acknowledged by the international institutions.
He said several power plants were being installed across the country based on hydel, coal, solar and wind resources.
The prime minister said the nationalization of industries in 1960s was a setback for national economy and assured SCIL to remove all bottlenecks in the operations of the power plant.
Referring to government’s efforts for revival of national institutions, the prime minister said the PIA would be revived into one of the best airlines in the world as a premier service has recently been launched. It is also up to the people to take care of this service and protect it from any degradation.
The prime minister said the political instability and inconsistency of the policies had reasoned the economic crises but the government was making efforts to regain the lost status of national economy.
He said the coal reservoirs in Thar should have been exploited some five decades ago but the present government had launched work on coal-based power plants.
He said peace situation was improving in Karachi and hoped that erstwhile economic hub of the country would regain its lost grandeur.
The Prime Minister said terrorism was not a minor issue rather the officers and the personnel of army, police and security institutions had sacrificed their lives in fighting the menace.
However, even now the terrorists try to hit the soft targets and expressed condolences over the loss of lives in Friday’s suicide blast in Mardan.
He said besides carrying out infrastructural or other development projects the government was determined to uplift the living standard of the common man by providing clean drinking water, and extending standard health and education facilities.
He said the federal cabinet had already approved a project in this regard that would also provide for improving sanitation facilities and increase the number of girls’ schools and small scale hospitals. The government has already started working on the establishment of another 40 state of the art hospitals across the country, he added.
He said to avoid over-billing, the mobile metering of electricity would be expanded countrywide as the same had been introduced in IESCO, KEPCO and FESCO.
To a suggestion by Mian Idrees, he said the full court bench had already turned down the petition of the Punjab government for establishment of a high court bench in Faisalabad.
In his welcome address, CEO SCIL Mian Idrees lauded the government’s efforts for revival of national economy and said foreign reserves had touched $23 billion mark from $11 billion in 2013. Tax revenue increased from Rs 2903 billion in 2013 to Rs 3104 billion now and number of Islamic banks had also increased by 53 percent during last three years, he added.
He said SCIL would have 15 megawatts surplus electricity that should either be purchased by WAPDA or the company be allowed to distribute it to its associate companies in the surrounding.
He requested the government to launch work on new Faisalabad airport besides seeking government’s support for establishment of Fatima university.
He also presented a Jinnah Cap and a souvenir to the prime minister.
Later, the prime minister also presented souvenirs to Governor Punjab Rafiq Rajwana, Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir, Chairman FPCCI Abdur Rauf Alam and the Chinese company that executed the project of power plant.