PM denounces West’s suspicion about CPEC, invites other countries to join project

Incentivizing industrialization in SEZs top priority of government: PM


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday dismissed the “suspicion” of Western countries about the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Gwadar port and said the projects were a great opportunity for regional development.

“The suspicion about CPEC and Gwadar makes no sense, We invite other countries to join as well,” he said in an interview with Dr. Eric Li, Director of the Advisory Committee of China Institute of Fudan University.

Imran Khan said the projects would prove beneficial not only for Pakistan and China but for the entire region.

He said his top priority was the uplift of 220 million people of Pakistan, adding that these projects in this regard would help in poverty alleviation and wealth creation.

Asked about the accusations of the United States and Europe on the genocide of Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang province, Khan said the reports received from Pakistan’s envoy in China after his visit to the province were “completely different”.

Ambassador Moin ul Haq was especially asked to go and have a look to find out what was actually going on in Xinjiang, he said.

“The report he [envoy] gave to us was completely different that is coming out [about Uyghurs] on the western media. According to him, the emphasis on development in Xinjiang is ‘unprecedented’,” he said.

He said the envoy, however, did mention a certain security issue because of the terror attacks by ETIM (East Turkestan Islamic Movement).

On ties with China, he said the all-weather friendship between the two countries withstood the test of time.

For 70 years, he said, the relations with China had been consistent regardless of the government in power.

To a question on balancing ties with the U.S. and China, he said Pakistan would like to replicate the role it had played in bringing closer the two rival blocs in the 70s.

When seeking comments on the situation after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, he said Americans did not learn from the history of Afghans and the situation could lead to a humanitarian crisis.

“When you have no clear aims why you invaded a country, it is going to be a failure. Anyone who thinks of controlling the Afghan people has not read their history,” he said.

He said the whole mission of the U.S. in Afghanistan was “based on a false premise”.

After 40 years, in an attempt to punish the Taliban government, a huge humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Afghanistan, he added.

“If Afghanistan descends into chaos because of the sanctions, as its 75 percent economy depends on foreign aid, this will be the biggest manmade human disaster,” he said.

On relations with India, he said normalizing ties with the neighboring country was the priority of his government after assuming power.

However, he said that the Kashmir dispute remained a big issue between the two countries.

He mentioned the “terrible situation” of human rights in India where the minorities suffered immensely.

“The Indian government thinks that the country belongs to Hindus, who continue to marginalize other minorities,” he said.

“A great tragedy is happening in India and I hope that better sense prevails to avert any damage,” he said.

Adding to this, Prime Minister Imran Khan says over 70,000 housing projects worth 1.4 trillion rupees have been approved which will have an overall impact of 7.3 trillion rupees on the construction industry and will create 1.2 million jobs.

He was chairing a meeting of the National Coordination Committee on Housing, Construction and Development in Islamabad on Thursday.

The Prime Minister said it is PTI Government’s huge achievement that 35,420 out of the total 80,000 applications have been approved and a total of 46 billion rupees have been disbursed to 13,407 applicants so far.

He said 148 percent increase in housing finance during the last three years and expected approval of 517 billion rupees till December this year reflects the steps taken by the government to facilitate low-cost housing and construction industry.

The Prime Minister said the government committed to adding one percent every year in house financing.

The meeting was briefed that since 2018 161,924 housing units were approved out of which 45,191 units are under construction and 20,898 have been completed.

The Prime Minister directed to complete the projects in the defined timelines and emphasized taking steps to improve and ease the process for low-cost housing projects.

Likewise, Prime Minister Imran Khan says incentivizing rapid industrialization through massive investment in Special Economic Zones is the top priority of the government.

He was chairing a meeting on SEZs Facilitation Model and Regulatory Guillotine for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) under PM’s Priority Sector Progress Review in Islamabad on Thursday.

The Prime Minister said the government is focused on attracting maximum foreign direct investment in the country.

Earlier the Prime Minister was apprised that 112 out of 167 reforms identified by the Board of Investment have been implemented to ensure ease of doing business for all potential investors in SEZs. The remaining 55 reforms will also clear necessary regulatory approvals within a month.

The Prime Minister directed all the regulatory authorities to streamline their respective regulatory frameworks to enable the investors to get their issues resolved under one roof in the shortest possible time. He also directed them to facilitate the growth of the Small and Medium Enterprises Sector in the country which contributes around 25 percent of the country’s total exports. He directed the relevant authorities to immediately resolve all pending issues of the SME sector related to export refinancing facility, payment of Duty Drawback on Local Taxes and Levies, and financing from banks to address their liquidity crunch.

He also instructed them to notify five-Year export policies for all major sectors, especially the textile and SME in order to lend certainty to the exporters.

The Prime Minister was briefed that the board of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority is being revamped along with the creation of 30 Billion rupees’ SMEDA Fund for the promotion of this important sector.

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