Strategy to steer country out of crisis: PM

Nawaz Sharif
Strategy to steer country out of crisis: PM

FAISALABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that his government is fully aware of problems of the masses and had evolved a comprehensive strategy to steer out the country out of the crisis.

Addressing a gathering of local traders, industrialists, businessmen, exporters and notables a local Hotel here on Monday, he said that a number of projects were in the pipeline to convert Pakistan into a modern and prosperous country of the world.He said with the assistance of China, the government would pull out the country from darkness and put it on the road to progress and prosperity. He said that he wants to see Pakistan economically viable, self-sufficient and a strong economic power. “The government is committed to overcoming loadshedding and ensure power supply to industrial, commercial and domestic consumers without interruption as well as at affordable rates,” he added.

Referring to his China visit, the prime minister said, “I was surprised when the Chinese told us that there is no theft in their country. What pity that black sheep are involved in stealing gas and power with impunity in our country,” he added.“We do not believe in corruption and we will not allow anyone to  indulge in corrupt practices, misappropriation of government funds and playing with the national exchequer for personal gains at the cost of the nation,” he asserted.

The prime minister said it was unfortunate that the government’s focus was  on the energy crisis although the country was facing innumerable serious issues like terrorism and poor economy which needs to be addressed on a war footing. The PM said gas and power theft was a curse and elements involved in it are anti-state elements and said they should not be spared at any cost.

The prime minister said the entire power system had become obsolete due to which breakdowns were common.He regretted the previous government had not given priority to maintain the power and gas system on modern lines and overcome line losses. “We have chalked out a practicable solution of all issues and gradually reduce line losses and eliminate malpractices, corruption, nepotism from state institutions, especially in gas and power sectors,” he added.

The prime minister said industrialists and traders should not indulge in stealing gas and electricity rather they should kick out black sheep from their ranks who were involved in it.The prime minister patiently listened to grievances of industrialists and traders against gas and power shortages and load-shedding.The prime minister also enquired the FESCO chief and Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muihammad Asif about the duration of load-shedding in Faisalabad region and asked them to ensure reduction in it and maximum relief to the industry and domestic consumers.

The PM also directed authorities to take special care of fasting people and there should be no complaint of loadshedding during Sehar and Iftar.Federal Minister Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Federal Minister for Petroleum and National Resources Khaqan Abbasi, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Pervaiz Rasheed, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif,Provincial Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah Khan, MNA Abid Sher Ali, local MNAs and MPAs, officials of Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (FESCO), Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and others were also present.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the energy crisis had confined his government to addressing the power shortage instead of taking on plans for regional development and securing a key role and position in the regional development.He said instead of the required focus on infrastructure development, boosting agricultural and industrial activities, amplifying exports, creating job opportunities for unemployed, development of an economic corridor from Kashgar to Gwadar and construction of highways and motorways linking Karachi, Lahore, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan with Central Asia, the government’s efforts and focus had been restricted only to address the energy issue.

“It (energy) has become a big issue in Pakistan, with no respite for the masses as well as the government,” he remarked.The Prime Minister, however, maintained that the government was planning to initiate large power projects and establish big power producing units, which would not only address the current power shortages but also cater to the requirements of next 25 years.The big power producing units would be solar-based, gas-fired, hydro-power and the projects for producing electricity by using the sugarcane waste, he added.The Prime Minister referred to his recent visit to China and said he had detailed discussions there on this issue and China extended its full support to Pakistan in addressing this challenge through public-private partnerships.

Replying to a question about the raid on a factory in Faisalabad, which was involved in gas theft of Rs 270 million, Prime Minister Sharif regretted that on one side gas was not available for the poor masses and on the other, such criminal people were stealing the precious commodity.“There are several such criminals and we have to purge our society from such elements. It is our duty to eliminate power and gas thefts. Some people have also been caught in Lahore,” he said and added that the government was doing all to check power pilferage.

The Prime Minister termed such elements anti-people, anti-Pakistan and anti-development and said action should be taken against them. He appreciated the DCO Faisalabad for his courageous action against the factory involved in gas theft.Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif regarding the on-going power outages in some areas during Sehr and Iftar timings despite the government’s announcement to ensure uninterrupted power supply, said such break-downs were caused by ineffective and weak supply system and infrastructure.He also called upon media to also highlight most of the areas, where there was no power outage during Sehr and Iftar timings.

To another question about the poor state of affairs of state-owned entities like Railways and PIA, the Prime Minister said the government has already addressed the issue of circular debt and would take steps to tackle these matters as well. While responding to a question about drone attacks vis a vis the present government’s policy, Prime Minister Sharif said his government held the same view as it had during the time of its opposition and had no double standards.It was due to the double standards of the previous regimes on drone attacks, which encouraged them (the United States) to continue such strikes, he remarked. – APP