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Agri promotion, end to unemployment top agenda

LAHORE (December 12 2002) : Chief Minister Punjab Ch Pervaiz Ellahi, spelling out priorities of his government, said here on Wednesday that promotion of agriculture sector and elimination of unemployment through industrialisation are at the top of his agenda.

"We are setting up an Agriculture Task Force, a separate cell and meeting with authorities concerned for reducing rate of interests on agricultural loans to give a boost to the agri sector, which is the backbone of the provincial economy," he said.

While addressing a luncheon reception arranged in his honour by Bashir Jan Mohammed, Pervaiz averred that the government will take both agriculture and industrial sectors with it on road leading towards uplift of the farmers and growth of the industry. In the past, political moves were made on each crop in which sometimes farmers suffered and sometimes industry. Nevertheless, present government intends that both industry and farmers should survive, as it will help revive the economy.

He assured on behalf of the Punjab Government that the private sector will be consulted while making policies and assured that every new policy will bring betterment for the people. In this regard, he welcomed the idea of formation of a committee that will meet once a month with representatives of all the departments concerned so as the problems and impediments in the way of industrialisation could be removed. He also stressed the need for a continuous monitoring and follow-up of these meetings.

Pervaiz said that it is right perception that government alone could not create jobs for elimination of unemployment. Always trade and industry come forward with investment to create such an opportunity. "We had to strengthen the present democratic system as a democratic government is thousands time better than any other government. Nevertheless, in such a government, people have easy access to the rulers," he added. 

He said that both long-term and short-term steps will be taken for the betterment of trade and industry. Regarding the absence of proper storage capacity for agri-products, he said that the government will pay attention to improve the situation.

Talking about the issue of lawlessness, he expressed his concern over the incidents of dacoities in Lahore during last one week. He disclosed that he held a meeting with IG Police in this regard and added that police reforms had strengthened the police instead of providing relief to the masses. He said that the present regime will bring in such policies, which could ensure relief to the masses.

He stated that he had talked to the Secretary Finance Punjab in order to change the culture of the police. We have plan to double the salaries of the police personnel, reduce their duty hours to eight instead of 24, provide free education to their children plus residential and other facilities.

But they have to change themselves for giving relief to the masses. He said that they are working on this plan under which Lahore will first be taken as a model district.

Nevertheless, they (police officials) will have 4 months to change themselves. On this point, in a light tone, he said he had decided to make every plan for two years only, as since 1985 no government has worked for more than 3 years.

Regarding other demands like completion of Expo Centre, he said that the government will help in this regard, besides helping in setting up of Industrial zones and revival of Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (Tevta).

He added that a meeting for revival of Tevta will be held during next week. He urged the opposition to wage collective efforts in order to strengthen the institution of assemblies and establishing trust in the masses on the system. He added that all the political parties are in agreement of having consensus at least on economic issues.

Speaking on this occasion, FPCCI Chief Iftikhar Ali Malik stressed the need for continuity of Musharraf's regime policies, improving the irrigation system in the province to maximise per acre yield of agri-produces and setting up industrial zones along motorway on both sides. He was of the view that after the completion of new Lahore Airport, the old one should be used for cargo services.

He also asked for a special package for overseas Pakistanis who intend to return their homeland and make investment, interaction with private sector in policy-making and preparation to face challenges of WTO.

Chairman Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (Prgmea), Pervez Hanif said that the biggest issues being faced by the province are unemployment and the lawlessness. He called for setting up Citizen Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) in Lahore on the pattern of Karachi, setting up of industrial zones and improving the condition at hospitals being run under social security system. 

His other demands included setting up of exhibition grounds, promotion of cottage and agro-based industry and construction of farm to market roads. Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Mohammed Yawar Irfan Khan called for consulting the private and business sectors in policy-making process.

Cargo village in Lahore and setting up of EPZs around Lahore besides an expo centre were his other demands. President Pakistan Advertisers Association S H Hashmi asked the newspapers to promote optimism amongst the masses and avoid printing rumours. Former FPCCI Chief Ilyas Bilour and Bashir Jan Mohammed also addressed.

Courtesy Business Recorder; Advisory Point

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