Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday lamented that Pakistan never paid attention to exports, adding that it was very difficult to increase a country’s wealth without them.
The premier was speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Rashkai Special Economic Zone being developed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
“If you aren’t increasing your exports, then the country’s wealth will never increase,” he lamented, adding that selling wheat and other products will not make Pakistan wealthy alone.
He said Pakistan should learn from the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) set up by China. He labelled the Rashkai Special Economic Zone a “big opportunity”, stressing on authorities to create ease of doing business for investors.
“The more hurdles you remove for investors, the more investors will arrive here [in Pakistan],” he said, adding that Pakistan had not been an “investor-friendly country”.
He said investors were always attracted by prospects of making profits and that was not possible without governments taking steps to ensure ease of doing business.
PM Khan said his government was focusing its efforts on removing hurdles from investors’ paths, adding that Pakistan has the potential to become an “attractive destination” for businessmen.
The prime minister regretted how Pakistani investors were setting up businesses in Bangladesh, Malaysia and other countries. He said this phenomena was due to the fact that in Pakistan, the government does not remove hurdles for investors.
“We send them [investors] to this office or that office,” he said, lamenting how investors were not treated like VIPs. “The biggest VIP here should be the one who creates employment opportunities for others,” he added, as the audience erupted into applause.
The prime minister recalled the difficult time for his government when the PTI was elected to power a little over two years ago. He said Pakistan was on the brink of default, adding that the starting 1.5-year period of his prime ministership was the most challenging part of his life.
The premier said when Pakistan was pulling itself out of the economic crisis, the coronavirus shuttered businesses around the world and had an adverse impact on various countries’ economies.
“We should raise our hands and profusely thank Allah,” he said, adding that Pakistan had not suffered the same fate as other countries had, where millions were unemployed and thousands had died.
He praised the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) adding that the think tank was closely following the coronavirus situation in the country.
He praised his government’s decision not to impose a coronavirus lockdown, adding that the poor would have “died from hunger” and Pakistan “would have suffered a fate similar to India”.
He hit out at the Opposition, adding that they were “shocked” to see the country’s economy improving all of a sudden.
“Let me remind them [Opposition] that I was the captain who introduced neutral umpires in cricket,” the prime minister said, adding that he would not give up easily in reforming the country.