Curbing energy crisis main purposes of foreign visits: CM

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LAHORE: Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that the basic purposes of foreign visits of leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are to find ways and means to overcome energy crisis and to develop infrastructure, transport and education sectors with the help of friendly countries.Talking to the press in Boao on the second day of his visit to China, Chief Minister Shahbaz said that it was for the first time that the federal as well as Punjab government had signed agreements of mutual cooperation with China. According to a handout, the chief minister said that a historic agreement had been signed with a Chinese company at the beginning of this month to carry out exploration of iron ore reserves near the city of Chiniot. He said that the agreement had paved the way for establishing first coal-powered steel mills in the country. It would also result in creation of over 100,000 jobs, he added. He said that initial results about quality of iron ore were highly encouraging and the standard of iron ore was not less than that of iron ore found in Brazil, Russia and India. He said that reserves of other precious minerals also exist in the area and their exploration would open up a new era of progress and development in the country. To a question, the chief minister said that the Punjab government had evolved a project with the cooperation of a big Chinese group for establishing Quaid-i-Azam Apparel Park to capitalise on the grant of GSP (Generalised System of Preference) Plus status by the European Union.The Chinese group would make investment of $2 billion in the project, which would generate hundreds of thousands of jobs, he added. He said that the same Chinese group had also expressed interest in extending cooperation in installing two coal power plants having generation capacity of 660 MW of electricity in Sahiwal and two similar plants having generation capacity of 135 MW of electricity in industrial estates. The chief minister said that massive cooperation of Chinese companies reflected growing trade and economic relations between the two countries. He noted that relations between the two countries had turned into useful economic ties. Chief Minister Shahbaz said that investment-friendly policies of the PML-N government had restored the confidence of foreign investors and several Chinese companies were making investment in energy, infrastructure and transport sectors in Pakistan. He said that special facilities and incentives were being offered to Chinese investors. He also thanked Chinese friends for the love and hospitality extended to him at official and unofficial meetings.Chief Minister Shahbaz, along with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, met with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang. Matters of mutual interest and bilateral relations were discussed during the meeting.  The chief minister said that Pakistan attached high importance to its relations with China and that the present Chinese leadership was promoting economic and trade ties with Pakistan. He said that rapid progress of China was a role model for all countries of the world, including Pakistan. He also expressed gratitude to the Chinese government and leadership for extending a historic investment package. Chief Minister Shahbaz, along with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, also met with Exim Bank Chairman and President Li Ruogu. Matters regarding financing of mega projects were discussed during the meeting. The chief minister said that cooperation of Exim Bank in energy, infrastructure and transport sectors would be welcome. Li Ruogu said that hard work, determination and passion of Chief Minister Shahbaz for restoration of Nanndipur Power Project had impressed him. He expressed the hope that other projects in Punjab would be completed expeditiously under the sagacious leadership of Chief Minister Shahbaz. Chief Minister Shahbaz spent a very busy day during his visit to China.Besides attending Boao Asia Forum, the chief minister also attended a session entitled “Reviving Silk Road — A Dialogue with Asian Leaders”. He also met with chief executive officers of investment companies in energy, infrastructure and transport sectors.

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