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Shehbaz Sharif tells SIFC’s Apex Committee burden of ‘measures’ will primarily fall on rich n Hopes Pakistan will get last tranche of US$1.1b from IMF next month n Urges people to join Green Pakistan initiative n COAS General Syed Asim Munir reassures fullest support of Pakistan Armed Forces to backstop economic initiatives.

 

ISLAMABAD  –  Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday said his government was go­ing to take tough eco­nomic decisions to steer the country out of cri­sis assuring to protect downtrodden segments of the society. 

He said that the bur­den of these measures would primarily fall on the wealthy and elite, with safeguards in place to protect the interests of the poor and vulnerable. 

Addressing the meet­ing of the Apex Com­mittee of Special In­vestment Facilitation Council (SIFC) here, the prime minister said the International Mon­etary Fund (IMF) had concluded the review for issuance of the last tranche of US$1.1 bil­lion that hopefully be received by next month. 

After this, he said Pakistan also wanted to start another pro­gramme with the IMF for a period of three years during which the government will take strict measures to bring deep-rooted structural reforms in the country. With the reforms, he said “we will succeed to gradually break the beg­ging bowl and come out of debt trap”. 

The prime minister sought support of all political parties and the provincial governments to successfully imple­ment the agenda of macroeconomic stabil­ity in the country. 

“For this we will have to work together. With the support of all the provinces, we will to­gether resolve all the challenges and difficul­ties faced by the coun­try”, he added. 

PM Shehbaz said the presence of chief min­isters of all the provin­cial governments, Army Chief, and other con­cerned officials from across the country con­veyed a clear message to the nation that all had gathered here for the cause of the country’s development, prosper­ity and integrity. 

He said the SIFC was formed in June 2023 to remove bottlenecks in the investment process and since then nine meetings of the Apex Committee had been held besides more than 200 relevant meet­ings. Consequent to the meetings, he said a number of important decisions had been taken and implemented under the umbrella of the Council. The prime minister pointed out that when the PDM government took over the charge of the gov­ernment in 2022, Pakistan was at the brink of bankruptcy but all the coalition partners decided to save the country from plunging into default by putting their poli­tics at stake. 

He said unfortunately a major chunk of the country’s resourc­es drained down in shape of cor­ruption. “This year’s target of tax collection is Rs 9 trillion but its potential was over Rs 1.3 trillion. Similarly, he said the cases of the taxes worth of Rs 2.7 trillion were pending either in the tribunals or courts that should have been re­solved as soon as possible.

The annual power theft is around Rs 400 billion in the coun­try while the combined circular debt of electricity and gas was over Rs 5 trillion, the prime minis­ter added. As regards the achieve­ments of the interim government under SIFC, the prime minister in­formed that the caretaker setup, due to its measures against power theft, saved Rs 87 billion. Similar­ly, strict measures were also taken to curb smuggling besides intro­ducing reforms in the land infor­mation system. Besides, it also successfully concluded the privat­ization process of Heavy Mechan­ical Complex (HMC). The prime minister highlighted that annual­ly hundreds of billions of rupees were lost in the State Owned En­terprises as PIA alone owed debt worth of Rs 825 billion. Likewise, he said that the interim govern­ment also signed many important agreements with different coun­tries to bring investment in the country including that with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) valu­ing $10 billion.

‘GREEN PAKISTAN INITIATIVE’

Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday called upon the provincial governments, civil society and all the citizens to become partners of the govern­ment’s quest for Green Pakistan. “Today is about investing in our future. I urge the nation to syner­gize their efforts in safeguarding this invaluable resource and en­sure its effective stewardship for our next generation,” he said in a message on observance of Inter­national Day of Forests 2024. 

He said Pakistan joined the glob­al community in commemorating the International Day of Forests 2024. “This year’s theme ‘Forests and Innovations: New solutions for a better world,’ highlights the need to harness technological in­novations to address the growing threats to our forests.” 

The prime minister pointed out innovations could help sustain­ably restoring, protecting, man­aging, and using the forests in the most efficient manner by hamper­ing risks of deforestation, habitat degradation, and climate change.

He said Pakistan’s total area un­der forest cover was less than 5 percent, and around 1.5 percent of these forests were lost every year which had profound impacts on Pakistan’s biodiversity, envi­ronment and agriculture. 

Being one of the most cli­mate-impacted countries in the world, he said climate change events were becoming more fre­quent and massively devastating for Pakistan, pointing to the ur­gent need to conserve our indig­enous forests. “This has become critical to our survival as a nation.” 

“Our government is embark­ing on the next phase of our am­bitious Green Pakistan Initiative which was first launched by PM­LN-led government in 2016 to im­prove forest cover and concerted efforts were made for conserva­tion of biodiversity in Pakistan,” he said adding in its next phase, the Green Pakistan Initiative aims to improve the forest cover, pre­serve wildlife habitats and help carbon sequestration. “Given the important role that forests play in the environment, let us resolve to protect and conserve them.” PM Shehbaz Sharif reaffirmed the government’s firm commitment to undertake all necessary steps to preserve and improve forest cover in Pakistan. “We will ensure that our crucial forest ecosystems all over Pakistan are protected as they are the lifeline of livelihood and environmental well-being of our nation,” he remarked.

Meanwhile, On the occasion, Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir reassured the full­est support of Pakistan Armed Forces to backstop the econom­ic initiatives of the government and ensure the provision of safe, secure and conducive environ­ment to nurture country’s true economic potential. The meet­ing was attended by former Care­taker Prime Minister Anwaar Ul Haq Kakar, Chief of the Army Staff, members of outgoing and incom­ing Federal Cabinet and Provincial Chief Ministers and senior gov­ernment officials.

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