ISLAMABAD, Jan 1 (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday performed the ground-breaking of a 100 million US dollars automobile manufacturing and assembly unit that, besides the regular models, would also produce electric vehicles.
As investment from China, the MG Motors company will start local production in Pakistan by mid 2021 and in the first phase will launch three SUVs – the MG-HS, MG-ZS 1.5 and MG ZS EV (a fully electric vehicle).
Addressing the ceremony here, the Prime Minister said China was Pakistan’s biggest ally in industrialisation. It was supporting the country in achieving its goals of economic prosperity through industrial development.
He said Pakistan could learn a great deal from China, as its economic model best suited the country. China developed its industry, established economic trade zones and attracted foreign investment to generate wealth, which it ultimately spent on poverty alleviation.
China, he said, brought its population of 700 million out of poverty in around 35 years, which had no other example in the world. Pakistan was also pursuing a similar vision, in which the real development was the uplift of the poor.
Imran Khan said it was his desire that the Chinese industry was re-located to Pakistan, from where the products could further be exported. He regretted that over the past years, Pakistan could not manage to increase its exports and the present government was now in consultation with the Chinese government on ways to enhance the exports.
He said Pakistan was also working with China in agriculture, particularly seed development and productivity increase, and mentioned that in the next phase of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the agriculture sector would figure prominently.
Referring to the contract for manufacturing of MG vehicles in Pakistan, the Prime Minister said the ripple effects of foreign direct investment would reach out to the connected industries, and generate employment.
He said Pakistan would continue to carry out joint ventures with the Chinese companies in future in all areas.
Imran Khan said in its first year of power, the government had to fully focus on revival and recovery of the national economy, while in the second year it had to take up the challenge of Covid-19 pandemic. The way the government navigated through the coronavirus crisis was duly acknowledged by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
He said 2021 would be the year of economic growth, wherein Pakistan would flourish while benefiting from its experiences in confronting various challenges. The construction and textile industries in the country were booming, despite the negative impact of the pandemic.
Pakistan was the only country in the Sub-continent that recovered rapidly from the impact of coronavirus, he added.
The Prime Minister said the new year would witness business-friendly policies and incentives for industries for wealth creation and ending of poverty.
Imran Khan said he had major targets. The first one was the universal health coverage – providing health insurance to each and every household, something which even the United States of America could not provide. The second was to identify the impoverished areas through the use of Information Technology, and then with the help of Ehsaas Programme and NGOs (non-governmental organisations), the government would ensure that there was no person in the country, afflicted with hunger or food insecurity.
He appreciated the efforts of Dr Sania Nishtar for her efforts in that regard.
The Prime Minister specifically lauded the efforts of industrialists Faisal Afridi and Javed Afridi for bringing in the third investment project with the Chinese entrepreneurs in Pakistan.
Hammad Azhar, Minister for Industries and Production, said despite the problems faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pakistan experienced positive trends in economic growth due to industrial activity.
He said the current account had been in surplus after 17 years as the Federal Government had successfully curtailed its expenditures. There was a 100 percent increase in the refunds, as compared to the previous year.
He mentioned the industrial relief package on electricity, setting up of a mobile phone manufacturing plant and new incentives for the automobile industry as the few key factors that would contribute to a stronger economy.
Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong said his country would boost investment in Pakistan. He said CPEC would be a great game changer, and would lead to extensive economic activity and create employment opportunities in diverse areas.