Balochistan’s socio-economic development on priority: President

President Asif Ali Zardari

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday said that the government accorded priority to Balochistan and was undertaking every effort for the socio-economic development of the province.

Talking to a delegation of Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI) at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, President Zardari said that the government was aware of the challenges in Balochistan, especially the law and order situation, and was striving to address those issues.Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar, while briefing media persons about the meeting, quoted the President as saying that boosting trade activities and facilitating the business community was among the priorities of the government.

The President said that in view of the importance of exports, the government was planning to offer targeted incentives to the businessmen.Greater exports mean greater foreign exchange earnings, greater economic activities and more job opportunities, he added.The President welcomed the delegation, congratulated the newly elected members of QCCI and wished them success.Recounting various steps taken by the government for the facilitation of the business community, the President noted that the government had fulfilled a long standing demand of the business community by decreasing mark-up rate further.

He said that in order to give medium term outlook to the policy regime, the government hasdintroduced the Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) for the years 2009-12 in addition to the yearly trade policy. Work on STPF 2012-15 is underway in consultation with all the stakeholders, the President noted.He said that in order to diversify and enhance country’s exports, the government was actively engaged with the international community and partners for increased market access.

In this regard, the President mentioned Pakistan-Indonesia PTA, Autonomous Trade Preference and GSP Plus Scheme of European Union, transit trade agreements with ECO and Central Asian Republics that would offer great opportunities to the local businessmen and entrepreneurs.The President reiterated that the role of the government was that of a facilitator. The initiatives of the government could only succeed if seconded by the efforts of the business community.

He emphasized on the proactive role of the private sector in assisting the government to chalk out congenial policies and afterwards, ensuring the continuity of those policies.The President said that the government was aware of the issues of the business community, especially the energy crisis, which was adversely impacting their businesses. He said that all possible efforts were being undertaken to ease the situation and diversify energy mix.President Zardari expressed the hope that the QCCI would continue its efforts for promoting trade activities and assisting the government in facilitating business community and economic growth of the country.

The delegation thanked the President for meeting and for his personal interest in the welfare of the business community of the country.They apprised the President of the issues involved in trade with Iran and Afghanistan and requested that these be addressed. The President advised the Commerce Ministry to address trade related issues of Balochistan urgently and directed that such meetings with the business community of Balochistan be held regularly in the Presidency to address economic issues.

The delegation, headed by QCCI President Ghulam Farooq, comprised former president Wali Muhammad, Senior VP Muhammad Musa Khan Kakar, Syed Abdul Rehman Shah Agham, Zaffar Razzaque Durrani, Haji Abdullah Achakzai and Sarwar Ahmed. Senior members of the Chamber Haji Fateh Khan, Muhammad Hashim Khan Tareen, Haji Abdul Wadood Achakzai, Mr. Hamdullah Khan Tareen, Essa Khan Kharoti, Haji Tahir, Haji Abdul Rahim and Umer Khan Achakzai were also present.Secretary General to the President Salman Faruqui, Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar, Federal Secretaries of Finance, Petroleum, Water and Power, Industries and Planning and Development division were present during the meeting. – APP