PM Imran Khan’s maiden press conference in Lahore
LAHORE - The Prime Minister Imran Khan says Pakistan is endowed with huge potential which can be exploited by good governance and eradicating the corruption.
Talking to media in Lahore on Sunday, he said the huge loans taken by the previous governments have indebted the country to such an extent where levying of taxes and consequent inflation have become inevitable.
The prime minister said it is a challenging time today, but the country will come out of this.
He said the PTI government is in the process of policy making and bringing reforms in all sectors whose impacts will be visible to people after 100 days of our government.
Referring to illegal money of Pakistanis stashed abroad, the Prime Minister said properties of ten thousand Pakistanis in foreign countries are being investigated to ascertain whether they were acquired through legal sources of money.
He said Pakistanis bought properties worth 900 billion rupees in Dubai alone during the last five years. He said notices have been sent to 300 people to inquire the sources of their income.
Imran Khan said even inside the country 70 bank accounts have been identified where illegal money transactions took place. He said government is in touch with authorities in UK, Dubai and Switzerland to get the information about the people who have placed their money and bought properties there.
The prime minister said overall debt of Pakistan was 6000 billion rupees a decade ago, which reached to 15000 billion rupees after the end of PPP government. The loan soared to a staggering 28000 billion rupees when the last government completed its term.
He said external debt has increased from 60 billion dollars to 95 billion dollars whereas current account deficit that was two billion dollars in 2013, is now 16 billion dollars.
The prime minister said the loans of public sector enterprises have reached to an alarming situation. He said circular debt is reaching an alarming figure of 1200 billion rupees while the deficit of gas sector is 157 billion rupees.
He said Pakistan Steel Mills which is out of production is under heavy loan of 187 billion rupees while Pakistan Railways is under a debt of 37 billion rupees. The national carrier PIA is under debt burden of 360 billion rupees.
The prime minister said anti-encroachment drive of the government has succeeded in retrieving thousands of kanals of state land from land mafia. He said 4547 kanals of land in Islamabad has been recovered worth 200 to 300 billion rupees. In Punjab, 2000 acres of land has been retrieved, out of which 2400 kanals was occupied by a politician.
He said the government will soon bring witness protection law to provide protection to those who identify such encroachments.
Replying to a question, the Prime Minister said the upcoming local government system will empower people at the village level. He said first village level elections will be held and then direct elections at Tehsil level will be conducted.
To another question, Imran Khan said the financial situation of the country is dilapidated and there is no other option but to go to international financial institutions for financial help. He said the government is weighing different options, including IMF bailout package, to overcome economic crisis.
The Prime Minister while defending his choice of Chief Minister Punjab said Usman Buzdar is an honest and simple man who lives in Pakistan and utilizes all those services that are used by common man.
He said Chief Minister Punjab meets all Members of Parliament and takes interest in their problems unlike previous chief ministers. He said Usman Buzdar will never indulge in corrupt practices and he is a symbol of change.
The Prime Minister said previous chief ministers lived like king and a sum of 8000 billion rupees was spent in Punjab during the last decade. He said annual expenditures on Lahore are three times more than the whole provincial budget of KPK.
Imran Khan reiterated that operation against corruption will continue with full force. He said National Accountability Bureau is an independent institution and pursuing the corrupt elements with impunity.
He said the opposition making hue and cry over the arrest of PML-N leader should understand that he is facing corruption cases that were made during the tenure of last government and incumbent government does not believe in victimization of political opponents.
He said billions of rupees have been siphoned off from the national exchequer and law will take its course to recover these.