Pak’s foreign reserves surge by $600m: PM

F.P. Report
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday launched multiple initiatives here for promoting sports culture and welfare of the sports persons including the Rs 5 billion Pakistan Sports Endowment Fund.
In a ceremony held here, he launched Pakistan Sports Endowment Fund with initial seed money of Rs 5 billion to provide financial assistance and other facilities to the emerging players and retired sportspersons of the country. The prime minister also performed soft launch of the first dedicated Sports University in the country to produce critical pool required for sports events such as planners, managers, technical staff, nutritionists, physiotherapists and others.
Similarly, PM Shehbaz launched the Prime Minister Youth Sports Initiative to develop sports across the country and to provide world class sports facilities to the youth. He also launched the Elite Sportspersons Development Programmeand E-Sports development programme.
Addressing on the occasion, Shehbaz Sharif said Pakistan’s highly talented sportspersons deserved appreciation from the the nation as despite limited resources, they promoted the positive image of the country across the world. He said out of Rs 5 billion allocated for Pakistan Sports Endowment Fund, a direct investment of Rs 2.5 billion would be made to meet various expenses of the players including tickets, logistics, hotel and other expenses.
He, however said this amount needed to be increased as it was not sufficient to meet the full requirements of the sportspersons. The prime minister said Pakistan youth was not less talented then the world as if they were fully capable of competing the world. He said if they were given opportunities, they could lead the world in the area of sports.
PM Shehbaz informed that yesterday, the Exim (Export-Import) Bank of the all weather friendly country China had rolled over another US$ 600 million for Pakistan which helped further increasing the country’s foreign exchange reserves. “Our forex reserves are going up but I wish that these reserves should increase on the back of our own resources rather than the foreign debts,” he added.
Minister for Inter-provincial coordination Ehsanur Rehman Mazari said the government took structural changes in the country’s sports to meet the emerging needs of games. He said during the previous government’s four years, sports were totally ignored but the current government, despite financial constraints took special measures to promote the sports culture.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Shaza Fatima Khawaja said on special directives of the prime minister, several sports’ departments that were closed by the previous government had been restored due to which some 40,000 sportspersons who lost their jobs, had also been restored. She said out of Rs 5 billion fixed for the Pakistan Sports Endowment Fund, Rs 1 billion would be spent for the establishment of the first dedicated Sports University in the country.
She said during previous one year, talent hunt programme was launched for hockey, volley ball and football in all provinces including AJ&K, and GilgitBaltistan to provide platform to the youth to show their talent. Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb, renowned sportspersons and high government officials were also present on the occasion.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif reiterated his call for the nation to unite on Charter of Economy to ensure the consistency of economic policies and put country on the course towards progress and prosperity.
The prime minister, addressing the groundbreaking ceremony of Islamabad Model Special Economic Zone, said with the signing of IMF agreement, the risks for default had ebbed away and the country would have to focus on boosting exports to compete with the neighboring states, particularly the eastern neighbor.
He said the Islamabad Model Special Economic Zone was launched with a delay of five years as nine SEZs were planned to be built under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said despite the land and designs, finalised for the SEZs in Punjab, the previous government not only impeded the projects but also made conscious efforts to undermine the Pak-China ties.
The prime minister, who earlier broke ground for the project and penned a testimonial, said that during Nawaz Sharif’s tenure, $30 billion Chinese investment came to the country in the form of CPEC, featuring power and road projects. He told the gathering that after the Chinese industry gone hitech, Pakistan had the golden opportunity to learn from the Chinese textile expertise, go for joint ventures and bring Chinese second-hand machinery to Pakistan to boost its exports.
He said during the last 14 months, the incumbent government remained in ‘fire-fighting’ mode as it had to cope with the unprecedented floods and record inflation, begotten by the Ukraine war. The prime minister said after the IMF agreement, the government would mainly focus on boosting industrial and agriculture sectors.
He said that a Special Investment Facilitation Council had been established with a mandate to attract investment to the agriculture, mining, information technology and exports sectors. He said the government would abide by the IMF agreement which had laid a basis for the economic reforms.
Citing Bangladesh’s $40 billion export of imported cotton, the prime minister said successful nations always learned lessons from past mistakes, and strove to cope with the challenge. “Now, we will have to get out of the loans and attract investment. This is what the Model Special Economic Zone is for to attract investment from China, UAE, Qatar and others to take Pakistan at par with the neighboring nations,” he added.
Prime Minister Shehbaz said in the past, the SEZ turned into the development estate and the people have been minting money. Emphasising the provision of land to the investors in SEZs on easy terms, he said the land in the Bahawalpur Solar Park was leased out at just $1 to the investors which was inevitable for them to save their capital to set up the industry. He also called for establishing a mechanism to cancel the lease agreement if the investor failed to develop the industry within the specified time-frame.
Planning Minister AhsanIqbal, in his address, said after 2020, the establishment of nine industrial zones was agreed under CPEC but the previous government put all the projects to the back-burner. The officers were implicated in false cases which begot a crisis of decision making, he added. He said the incumbent government took up the SEZs on priority basis and started reviving the stalled projects like the Rashakai SEZ which was about to be inaugurated.
Emphasising the execution of 5E framework, the minister said the country had no other option but to take its exports to $100 billion and the SEZ would act as a powerhouse for the purpose. He suggested that land should be provided on easy terms to the investors for the SEZs.
Federal Minister for Industries and Production Makhdoom Syed Murtaza said with the establishment of Islamabad Model Special Economic Zone, a longstanding demand of the Federal Capital’s industrial community would be addressed. Highlighting his ministry’s performance, he said they addressed the anomalies in the processes like the import of solar panels and that the petrochemical and coal gas policies would be finalised by July 30.
He called for taking advantage of Pakistan’s cheap labour and an ease of doing business environment in the country. Secretary Board of Investment Asad Rehman Gillani said that the PM’s vision of “investors are my masters” gave the government machinery a strength to execute the projects.
He told the gathering that the SEZs would help develop the people-to-people and business-to-business contacts. He said the Islamabad SEZ would be established over 1000 acres of land on the junction of N-5 and Islamabad Expressway, and would create around 1,000 jobs. Another industrial zone was already functional in the nearby area, he added. The BOI secretary said the industry with low-carbon footprints would be established in the Zone which would bring in an investment of around $2.5 billion.
PM stresses upon efforts to facilitate overseas Pakistanis with IT-related initiatives: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday stressed the need of making efforts to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis with the introduction of different information technology related initiatives.
Addressing an inauguration ceremony of the launch of ‘Online Temporary Mobile Registration System for the Overseas Pakistanis and Foreign Nationals’, the prime minister termed the initiative a good step to facilitate millions of overseas Pakistanis, by enabling them to get registration of their mobile phones during their visit to Pakistan and without paying any taxes.
He maintained that the facility would now enable the overseas Pakistanis to use their mobile phones for a period of four months after registration on their visit to Pakistan. The prime minister also advised the relevant authorities to streamline the process and hinted that a financial package for the overseas Pakistanis would be announced by the government in the coming days.
He opined that the developed countries had made strides in the IT sector and Pakistan possessed immense talent as millions of younger people were getting IT education. He stressed that the vast opportunities in the IT sector should be fully tapped.
The ceremony was attended by ministers, parliamentarians and relevant authorities. The prime minister said that under the PM’s youth programmes, a huge chunk of funds had been set aside to imparting vocational and skills development education to the youth, besides the laptops were being given to the students on merit.
Stressing upon the promotion of IT sector, he viewed the growth of IT sector, exploration of minerals and development of the agriculture sector as the main ingredients of the country’s economy. He advised the authorities to expedite the work on IT park and said with the realization of the IT-related projects, the country would make progress by leaps and bounds.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister for IT and Telecommunication Syed AminulHaque highlighted the efforts of his ministry in the introduction of the facility under the vision of the prime minister for a digital Pakistan. For the first time in Pakistan’s history, he said, the smartphones were imported by the country.
A member of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority apprised that the online facilitation system for the overseas Pakistanis would be equipped with three linkages. The overseas Pakistanis, students, foreign tourists and labourers could avail the facility for a period of 120 days, he added.
PM, Punjab CM discuss matter of salaries, pensions of provincial employees: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday discussed the matter of Punjab government employees’ pensions and salaries with caretaker Chief Minister Punjab Mohsin Naqvi via telephone.
He discussed with the chief minister out raising salaries and pensions of Punjab government employees at par with the federal government employees. Mohsin Naqvi assured the prime minister that the matter would be presented before the provincial cabinet again.
PM grieved over sudden death of Tariq Fazal Chaudhry’s son: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday expressed deep sorrow over sudden death of PML-N leader Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry’s son who died in a road accident here on Monday night.
The prime minister, in a statement issued by the PM office, offered his heartfelt condolence and sympathies to the bereaved family of late Anza Tariq. He prayed to Allah Almighty to grant courage to the bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss with fortitude. He also prayed for grant of eternal peace to the departed soul. Meanwhile, in his tweet, the prime minister said that for parents, nothing was more heart shattering than losing a child.