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2021 Will be a Year of Economic Growth: Imran Khan

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo. YouTube

Prime minister praises China economy, says Pakistan can learn from their development model

2021 will be a year of economic growth for Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed on Friday, adding that the country was already headed in the right direction based on available indicators.

Speaking at a ceremony in Islamabad to inaugurate indigenous manufacturing of automobiles, he said that the recent rise in sales of cement was a clear sign of increased construction activity, adding that this indicated greater investment and productivity. Similarly, he said, the textile industry was also producing at full capacity for the first time in years. “This has resulted in a shortage of labor,” he claimed.

Reiterating that Pakistan had witnessed the “fastest recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic” in the region, he said that a boost in exports was also evidence of the country correct approach. He said that in the new year, the government had a “simple” policy for success.

“We must make business-friendly policies. We must help industry that has been neglected; we must incentivize it so we can generate wealth and eradicate poverty,” he said, adding that he also wanted to expand the government’s health insurance coverage and launch a new program to ensure no one in the country goes hungry.

Noting that “universal health coverage” had already been implemented in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, he said this would be replicated in Punjab and Gilgit-Baltistan by the year’s end. “Each household will have the ability to avail medical treatment through the health insurance card. This is a massive challenge, even rich countries do not have such a system,” he claimed.

The prime minister said that the government would also launch a new program under the Ehsaas initiative to ensure no one in the country goes to sleep hungry. “We will use technology to identify areas with the largest number of food insecure people and will work with individuals and NGOs” to address their needs, he said.

Chinese model

During his speech, the prime minister said that being a regional neighbor, China’s development model was best suited to Pakistan. “If we can learn from any one country in the world, it is China,” he said, adding that the speed at which Beijing had developed in the past 30 years was worthy of emulation.

Khan said the government was looking to expand investment opportunities in Pakistan for Chinese industries. “For this purpose, we have launched special economic zones. Next, we aim to convince them to export from Pakistan,” he said, claiming that no government had tried to boost the country’s exports in the past 50 years.

“This is why we have to go to International Monetary Fund—when our imports outweigh exports and create a current account deficit,” he said, noting Pakistan had great potential for exports and discussions would be held to increase bilateral trade in the short-term.

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