Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Thursday that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project was not being welcomed by many internal and external forces who did not want to see progress and development in the country.
“These people do not want to see the country get new roads, power houses, infrastructure, health and education,” he said while addressing a ceremony held at the Prime Minister’s Office to launch a credit guarantee scheme for small farmers.
The prime minister said that $45 billion investment in projects under the CPEC was an eyesore for many and urged the nation to pray to Almighty Allah to protect the country from intentions of the evil. He condemned Wednesday’s killing of people belonging to the Shia Ismaili community in Karachi and said the government was committed to wiping out the menace of terrorism. He said that after a unanimous decision of parliament special courts had been set up for speedy trial of terrorists. Referring to his recent visit to Kabul, the prime minister said he and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had agreed to make joint efforts to counter terrorism. Mr Sharif said agriculture was a priority area of his government and it would be given the status of industry and the scope of agriculture credit would be expanded. He said the scheme would benefit small farmers, improve their standard of living and bring about positive impact on the lives of people living in rural areas.
The prime minister said the agricultural sector would be provided easy loans, the livestock sector improved with a view to achieving self-sufficiency and land record would be computerised. He said that when PML-N came to power in 2013, the national economy was in a dilapidated state and faced a number of challenges on different fronts, but it was now experiencing a boom because of tireless efforts made by his government. Mr Sharif said that over 65 per cent of farmers owned less than five acres of land and asked banks to focus on deserving people and open their doors so that they could stand on their own feet. He said the government wanted to improve resources for small farmers by providing them better fertilisers, pesticides and farming equipment for increased yield.
He said it was not right to go out of the way to serve those who were already rich and still wanted billions of rupees in loans, but ignore those who had meagre income and really needed money. The prime minister said the default rate of money lent to small borrowers was less than one per cent, compared to those who borrowed huge amounts. He said Rs250 billion had been allocated for the energy sector alone under the Public Sector Development Programme in one year. Earlier, the prime minister was briefed on the credit scheme aimed at facilitating small farmers to increase their productivity.
He was informed that agriculture had a share of 21pc in the national economic growth and its products constituted 60pc of exports. Pakistan is the fourth largest cotton, eighth largest sugarcane and fifth largest milk producer in the world. According to a UN report, over the next 10 years Pakistan will be one of the 17 countries which would face serious water crisis. The prime minister was informed that salinity and water logging were the major problems confronting the agricultural sector. However, measures are being taken to increase productivity, information sharing through model farms and introduction of mobile banking in rural areas. The credit guarantee scheme has been launched by the government to encourage banks to finance small farmers. The government, through the State Bank, has ensured provision of guarantee to banks for up to 50pc loss sharing which will benefit 300,000 farmers. The size of total disbursement will be Rs30 billion.