LAHORE: Trade with the neighbors is inevitable in order to make economic progress. Energy crisis and extremism are the two major impediments in the way of economic growth and development of the country but the government is doing its utmost to arrest the hurdles to bring the economy on track.
This was stated by the Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir while interacting with the economic journalists at the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) Lahore office on Saturday.
Khurram said that the government has also been working on eradicating the extremism, which is really very uphill task, due to which the economic activities have been hit hard. The minister also highlighted the government’s achievement on attaining GSP plus status.
Visa regime and unavailability of banking infrastructure between India and Pakistan are the major non-tariff barriers, the minister said, hoping that the government will be able to resolve these issues soon to facilitate bilateral trade with India.
During the last 30 years whole the world has decided to undertake trade with the neighboring countries setting aside their social, political and ideological differences with each other, the minister said while discussing India and Pakistan trade.
“We have to give importance to the trade with neighboring country especially with India as no country can make economic growth unless it conducts open trade beyond its borders, the minister said highlighting that India and Taiwan have major differences with China but they never halted trade with China,” he added.
It is incorrect that Pakistan’s local industry and agriculture would face closure if India and Pakistan trade is opened, the minister stated, elaborating both the countries have been conducting 85 percent trade with each other for the last 26 month and nothing bad had happened to Pakistani products, the minister of commerce Khurram Dastgir said.
Pakistani products have tremendous potential and can vie with the world but failed to capture international market because of improper branding and marketing, the minister said.
“We cannot exploit the economic potential unless the two hurdles namely energy shortage and extremism are tamed,” the commerce minister said. He said that the government is fast advancing towards doubling the cheaper energy generation capacity.
“Pakistan is producing 70 percent electricity with furnace oil which is not viable due to high cost of production. We are taking every possible step to shift from furnace oil to coal based production of electricity which is far cheaper than that of the furnace oil generation of the electricity,” the federal minister said.
All the new energy installment including Gaddani Energy Park, two units at the Port Qasim and the new units which will be set up in Punjab, will generate energy with coal, he added.
In the next 12 to 18 months, when these coal based projects would start generating electricity with coal, there would not only be abundance of electricity but also cheaper electricity for the consumers, he hoped.
The government is also working extensively on hydel based power projects including Diamer Basha Dam despite the fact that the government is well aware of the fact that the projects cannot be completed during the five year tenure of the incumbent government, the commerce minister stated.
Work on atomic energy and Thar Coal based power generation projects is also in progress and in the upcoming 8-10 years Pakistan’s cheaper energy capacity would reach 45,000 megawatts, the minister of commerce hoped.
“We are also working on coming over the acute shortage of gas. The government will be able to arrest the gas shortage problem to a great extent following the import of LNG would start in Karachi by start of the next year,” the mister stated, adding that the government is also eying to complete Iran Pakistan gas pipeline project which is facing severe shortage of funds.