Aaj TV launched: economic growth sustainable: Shaukat -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Aaj TV launched: economic growth sustainable: Shaukat

KARACHI,March 24 2005: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said on Wednesday that the current economic growth was sustainable. Taking to Ms Nasira Zuberi in an interview on Aaj TV, the Prime Minister said that the growth rate would be maintained between seven to eight percent.

Earlier the Aaj TV was formally launched coinciding with the Pakistan Day celebrations. Shaukat said the growth rate was striving towards eight percent. He said economy was growing, which was near seven percent yet. The backbone of an economy was the middle class of a society.

He said the size of middle class was increasing which had resulted in increased demand. Fruits of increase in demand were trickling down to the poor segments of the society, who supply goods to the middle- and high-income groups, he said.

The Prime Minister said the bombastic sale of motorcycles this year was a key indicator of growth of middle class. He said 500,000 motorcycles had been manufactured this year as against highest number of 200,000 ever made earlier.

And the rapid growth of sale of mobile phones was another positive indicator, he added.Enumerating the priorities of the government, the Prime Minister said construction of big dams and water reservoirs topped his list. He said without building big dams, energy requirements of the country could not be met, he said.

Shaukat said the government had planned to increase investment in infrastructure. Social sector reforms were also a priority, he added. He said reforms in governance were under way.

About the recent highly bullish and then bearish movement of the stock market the Prime Minister refused to comment on shares trading, but he said fluctuation was a normal process. Markets have their own mechanism, and “feel-good factor” was the main driving force behind the latest bull-run on the market, he said.

Shaukat also said that for the first time in the history of the country, he would appear before the National Assembly in special “prime minister question-hour” in the near feature. He said it is the duty and priority of government to give satisfactory answers to the people’s representatives.

The Prime Minister said the country had witnessed rapid growth in agriculture sector.On the question of provincial autonomy he said that it was necessary for the federal government to assist and co-ordinate with the provincial governments in all aspects. Federal and provincial governments were working together for the betterment of the country, he said.

On the question of sugar prices he said Utility Stores were selling sugar at Rs23 per kg.UPP ADDS: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz maintained that the economic reforms including financial reforms needed clear thinking and commitment and in this respect the support given by President Musharraf was certainly crucial.

“In the past the governments were prone to leaving the programme for economic development to the IMF & World Bank, reflecting weakness,” the Prime Minister said.

Shaukat Aziz said that after taking charge as finance minister he promoted in the ministry dedication to work and gradually evolved a position where Pakistan gives its own economic programme to the IMF and the World Bank and seeks their comments.

The Premier said consumer interest was always given due interest by the government and the latest example was in the sugar sector.

The Prime Minister disagreed that sugar prices had gone up. He said that the government’s measures, as allowing import and providing other facilities, had stabilised the market.

He maintained that the country’s 60 percent population was engaged in agriculture and added that keeping this in view every effort to improve the availability of all inputs in the agricultural sector including loans had been made.

Shaukat Aziz said that agricultural sector improvement was reflected in the fact that people in the rural areas were buying motorcycles instead of bicycles and various other improvements were also evident.

He said that various reforms in the educational field and better management of water and power would help in maintaining the growth rate. There was a shortage of skilled labour and for this skill development in education field was being given priority.

The Premier said that he had already taken measures to ensure attendance by treasury members in the National Assembly and Senate.

Shaukat Aziz stressed importance of the role of the opposition and declared that the government sought their active participation in the proceedings of the House at national and provincial levels.
Source: Business Recorder