‘PML-N’s tireless efforts to improve economy bearing fruit’


LAHORE: Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has said that due to tireless efforts of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government, economic indicators are improving and foreign exchange reserves have increased beyond $10 billion. 
According to a handout, the chief minister was addressing the inaugural ceremony of the South Asian International Exhibition at the Expo Centre on Friday. He also visited various stalls set up at the exhibition. Later, he gave a special award to industrialist Mian Tariq Nisar for paying highest tax in the country.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Shahbaz said that holding of the South Asian International Exhibition in Lahore was of vital importance to promote regional cooperation as it would help improve ties between SAARC countries and increase cooperation in different sectors. 
He said that the government, business leaders and officials of chambers of commerce and industry would have to cooperate with each other in order to move forward as it was the secret of industrial and economic development.
He said that industrialists, businessmen, and chambers of commerce would be consulted in formulation of industrial and economic policies in Punjab Province and that no policy would be evolved without consultation with stakeholders.
Shahbaz said that the Punjab government was setting up a state-of- the-art Quaid-i-Azam Apparel Park (garments zone) near motorway with the cooperation of Chinese companies. This zone was also being established with the consultation of industrialists, he said and added that the construction of the apparel park over 1,400 acres of land would result in substantial increase in export of textile products besides generating hundreds of thousands of new jobs.  He said that there are vast opportunities of development of livestock and dairy farming sectors. “It is unfortunate that in spite of being a big milk producing country, Pakistan processes only 4 percent of its total milk production while a neighbouring country processes 24 percent of its production,” he added. 
He said that Turkey had made tremendous development in livestock sector and that a delegation of the Punjab government would visit Istanbul soon to explore ways and means to benefit from the Turkish experiences. 
He said that the government had worked very hard during the last 10 months due to which economy was improving. He said that the World Bank had expressed willingness to give a soft loan of $2 billion while Saudi Arabia had given $1.5 billion to the people and the government of Pakistan as a “gift”.
He said that it was unfortunate that disgruntled elements tried to create doubts about this gift only in order to please the enemies of Pakistan. 
He said that the elements creating despondency in society in response to positive measures taken by the government were suffering from mental bankruptcy. 
Chief Minister Shahbaz further said that besides dealing with energy crisis, elimination of terrorism was also a big challenge and that both these problems have to be resolved simultaneously; otherwise, the dream of progress and development could not be realised. He said that 2,500 MW of electricity would be generated during next three years, which would provide a substantial relief to the masses. He said that foundation stone of coal power plants in Port Qasim, Karachi, and Sahiwal would be laid next month while the first turbine of Nandipur Power Project would start functioning next month that would add 100 MW of electricity to the system. He urged local investors to come forward and invest in the energy sector.
He said that the $32 billion investment package given by the Chinese government and leadership reflected confidence in the PML-N leadership. 
He said that a project to run a metro train on Multan Road till Thokar Niaz Baig with the cooperation of China had been conceived. He said that the 27-kilometre-long project would cost $2 billion and would be a splendid gift from China to the people of Pakistan. He said that a big Chinese company was setting up an industrial park worth billions of dollars at the Faisalabad Industrial Estate and that its foundation stone would also be laid next month. He said that another Chinese company would set up power plant with generation capacity of 100 MW of electricity at the Quaid-i-Azam Apparel Park and the foundation stone of this project would also be laid soon. 
Chief Minister Shahbaz stressed the need for collective efforts to carry out national reconstruction and expressed the hope that Pakistan would become a great country and regain its lost status in the comity of nations very soon. 
ILO delegation calls on Shahbaz: An International Labour Organisation (ILO) delegation called on Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Friday. 
According to a handout, the ILO delegation expressed keen interest in Punjab government’s programmes for the welfare of workers, including capacity-building of labourers, elimination of child labour and provision of technical support. 
Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister said that the ILO was playing an important role in ensuring improved working conditions for labourers and eradication of child labour. He said that the ILO could collaborate with the Punjab government in Punjab Skills Development Programme and setting up of modern training centers in different cities of the province. The ILO delegation praised the efforts of the Punjab government in elimination of child labour and skills development. 
EU delegation calls on CM: An European Union (EU) delegation led by EU Ambassador to Pakistan Lars Gunnar Wigemark met with Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Friday. According to a handout, matters of mutual interest and conduct of the South Asia Labour Conference were discussed during the meeting. 
The chief minister said that holding of the first South Asia Labour Conference in Lahore was of vital importance for the welfare of labourers and protection of their rights. He welcomed the participation of EU delegates in the conference and said that the grant of GSP (Generalised System of Preference) Plus status to Pakistan by the European Union would result in substantial increase in export of textile products. He said that the Punjab government was setting up Quaid-i-Azam Apparel Park to cash in on the grant of GSP Plus status. 
Ambassador Wigemark congratulated the chief minister on successful conduct of the South Asia Labour Conference. He praised the steps being taken by the Punjab government for the protection of rights of labourers. 

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