Country Would Have Sufficient Energy And Load Shedding
Advisor to Chief Minister Punjab Khawaja Ahmad Hassan has said that country would have sufficient energy and load shedding would be the story of past. He was talking to the LCCI President Malik Tahir Javaid, Vice President Zeshan Khalil and Executive Committee Members here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
Advisor to CM said that the electricity shortage was the major challenge for the government after 2013 elections but today situation is quite different. Power projects have not only been completed within shortest possible time but cost was also about 50% less as compared to the past as Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif fought for saving even a single penny during negotiations with Chinese officials.
Khawaja Ahmad Hassan said that credit of overcoming the menace of load-shedding goes to Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif who was the doer and led from the front. He said that because of his untiring efforts Sahiwal coal power projects of 1320 MW completed in only 24 months that is a world record. He said that efforts are yielding results and today we can plan our manufacturing.
About terrorism and lawlessness, he said that these issues have been controlled considerably due to strong political will and support of the security forces. He said that Karachi was burning in the past but today it is working as engine of growth because of untiring efforts of the government and sacrifices of security forces.
He said that infrastructure development plans attract the outer world, particularly the foreign investors. He said that Punjab government is committed to provide best transportation facilities to the masses while early completion of infrastructure development related projects is being ensured. He said that health sector is also one of the priorities of the Punjab government.
The LCCI President Malik Tahir Javaid said that in today's fast changing world, cites compete with each other for attracting business. A most striking feature of the Census 2017 is that around 66% of the population of Pakistan now lives in ten cities. It is one of the factors at which the ease of doing business is judged. This makes the measurement of the size of the economy of cities and the understanding of its structure extremely important.
He said that Lahore was the second largest city of Pakistan in Census 1998. It retains that position in Census 2017. What is new is that it is the only city of Pakistan whose population has more than doubled in the inter-censal period, from 5,143,495 to 11,126,285.
He said that the most important result of the study is that Lahore has a large economy of over a trillion rupees. In 2010-11, the size of the economy of Lahore was around Rs 945.6 billion. It went up to Rs.1,227 billion in 2014-15. This means that the share of Lahore in the Punjab economy increased from 17.7% in 2010-11 to 18.9% in 2014-15. The corresponding shares of Lahore in Pakistan’s GDP were 10.4% and 11.5%. He said that with economies of scale and agglomeration, a high growth of Lahore will contribute to high growth of Punjab and a high growth of Punjab will lead to a high growth of Pakistan. With an urban population growth of 4.02 per cent, the Lahore district is now 99% urban.
The LCCI President said that servicing this large population has changed the structure of the economy as well. The predominant sector of the economy of Lahore is now the services sector. We need to understand the policy implications of the rising share and growth of services. The city will have to effectively manage environment, infrastructure, investment, consumption and other services to remain competitive.
Malik Tahir Javaid said that building new parking plazas near or around important markets in Lahore has been in the agenda of the Punjab Government. He said that his procedure should be expedited so that the problem of parking could be solved. Moreover, the private sector should be allowed to be partner in it. Rotary parking plazas can also be encouraged to address this problem.
He said that the city drainage system needs to be overhauled if not completely, than at least in parts. Priority should be given to the sections, which are completely broken down. Such areas need serious consideration. Side by side with the issue of drainage system up gradation is the availability of drinkable water. If that issue is under the purview and consideration of the city government; we would be interested to know your plans.
The LCCI President said that there is a lot of confusion among the general public and the business community about the origin and number of taxes. Tax collection is sometimes sublet to contractors without proper intimation to the private sector about the tax head. That opens the door for exploitation and graft. City District Government should clarify the fiscal measures for time to time to avoid confusion. He said that Lahore as a major city continues to face the unmanageable traffic pressures. Nowadays, the construction work for metro train is going on at a much larger scale. The construction company should be instructed to keep the relevant roads as much clear of undue hurdles as possible so that the flow of the traffic should not get disturbed.
“We really value the efforts of law enforcing departments/agencies in maintaining law and order in Lahore but yet there is still a lot to do to slash crime rate especially in industrial areas. Encroachments are a serious problem in the markets despite good efforts in the past by the government but this problem still prevails and needs to be rooted out”, the LCCI President said.