ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday said no nation could move forward without long-term planning and it was tragic that governments in Pakistan could not make long-term planning due to the general election every five years.
Addressing a function here in connection with documentary-drama (Paani ke Pankh), he termed the 10 years of PPP and PML-N governments from 2008 through 2018 the decade of darkness, marred by massive corruption, political expediency and inefficiency.
“When criminals become country heads, then no country can develop. So, one has to have faith in oneself. There are talented Pakistanis in every field outside Pakistan. The country’s system has to be fixed,” he said.
“It takes a little time; people should not worry that the change has not come yet. It takes time to change the mindset. It’s tragic that in our country elections are held every five years due to which we do not have a long-term plan,” he continued.
He said dams were built with a long-term plan and cited China as a country that is becoming the world’s fastest growing economic power and superpower because of long-term planning.
“When we visited China, they told us what they were going to do in the next 10 to 20 years. No nation can move forward unless it has a long-term plan and thinks ahead. Unfortunately, we have a period of five years. We try to accomplish everything in five years, spend billions of rupees on advertisements and then fight elections on it,” he pointed out.
Imran believed that this handicap had done a lot of damage to Pakistan. “We have made decisions in a short period of time due to which we generate the most expensive electricity in the entire subcontinent. Whether we buy electricity or not, the agreements are such that in 2013 we had to pay Rs180 billion a month to the power producers as compulsory payment. When our government came, it was Rs500 billion,” he noted.
On power generation, the prime minister said in 2023, Pakistan would spend Rs1,500 billion on power capacity as compulsory payment whether it used it or not. Then he explained that there was a big difference in the use of electricity in winter and summer.
“If power consumption is around 24,000MW in summer, it plummets to 8,000 or 9,000MW in winter. This is because in winter we are not using electricity but we still have to pay and because of this electricity has become expensive. We have made a number of agreements in which we got the most expensive electricity in the world due to the short-term planning. There was corruption and there was a short-term thinking that the next election would be held and that we will win the election and move forward”.
After 50 years, he pointed out, the government decided to build two big dams. “Mohmand Dam would be built soon, which would have a positive impact on Peshawar and water problems would also be solved. Both the projects would generate clean electricity. The other thing is water storage because while moving forward Pakistan will face water problems that will affect our agriculture.”
He said when the PTI government came, there were Rs30,000 billion liabilities and loans were 25,000 billion. In our government, debt has gone up to $36 billion in two and a half years. 11,000 billion loans have increased in our era out of which 6,000 billion loans were paid as interest on old loans.
He went on to explain that the value of dollar went up from Rs105 to 160 causing automatic increase of Rs3,000 billion in loans without doing anything. The prime minister contended that the value of rupee did not fall because of the incumbent government and referred to a historic trade deficit with imports touching $60 billion and exports just $20 billion. Likewise, owing to the coronavirus, tax collection was less by Rs800 billion and a relief package was also given in the backdrop of the pandemic.
He said only a nation having self-confidence and belief in itself could rise but not the one that sought loans.
“We have to move towards a self-reliant Pakistan. Only a nation with a big thinking moves forward and not the one looking to please the world with a so-called soft image. We made a mistake to please the world and became part of others’ war though we had nothing to do with 9/11,” he maintained.
He also cited the term enlightened moderation introduced by General Musharraf while speaking against the soft image. “Remember, honor belongs to a man, who is self-sufficient. Experience, the poorest of the poor will be the man, who has honor and self-respect.”
He promised that the government would support the film industry which lagged behind copying the Indian content. Meanwhile, chairing the weekly meeting of National Coordinating Committee for Housing, Construction and Development, Imran directed that steps be taken on war footing against the illegal housing projects, especially the exploitation of overseas Pakistanis.
He regretted that the accumulated capital of the common man was lost, which needed immediate check. The meeting was given a detailed briefing on the steps taken against illegal housing schemes and constructions in Punjab and the federal capital.
“Protection of citizens, especially of the poor, is a top priority in promoting construction activities,” he maintained. He directed that the awareness campaign be intensified to ensure implementation of rules and regulations in the housing schemes and release of details about the illegal housing schemes on relevant websites to warn the public against sale and purchase in the illegal housing schemes.
Imran also chaired a review meeting of Ravi Urban Development Authority and Central Business District project here. He was informed that the Central Business District Plan (CBDP) had the revenue potential of $7.6 billion.
Governor Sindh Imran Ismail, Special Assistant Dr Shahbaz Gill, Chairman New Pakistan Housing Authority Lt Gen (R) Anwar Ali Haider, Chairman Ravi Urban Development Authority Rashid Aziz, Imran Amin and senior officials concerned attended the meeting.
Imran also chaired a review meeting on progress in measures regarding provision of health cards in Punjab. He was apprised of the recent approval by the Punjab Cabinet for provision of Universal Health Coverage to 100% of the population.
The meeting was given a detailed briefing on the progress made so far in providing health cards to 100 per cent of the population of Punjab by the end of this year.
Meanwhile, the prime minister chaired a meeting on the administrative matters of universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab as well as the quality of education, transparency in financial matters and implementation of merit.
It was decided that the prime minister will interact with the Ehsaas Programme beneficiaries during his visit to Sahiwal on Friday.
The prime minister will distribute cheques for interest-free loans and Ehsaas undergraduate scholarship among the selected number of deserving beneficiaries and students from Sahiwal Division.
Imran directed that besides appointment of expert and experienced people to administrative positions in the universities, a balanced and effective strategy be formulated for significant improvement in quality of higher education and administrative matters.