FAISALABAD - A bill to grant GSP plus status to textile exports from Pakistan will be tabled in European Parliament in the first week of January 2014.
This was stated by Punjab Governor Muhammad Sarwar while addressing members of the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) during his maiden visit to the FCCI here on Sunday.
He said that textile was the major industry that was earning precious foreign exchange for the country, but unfortunately it was facing complicated and ticklish issues due to domestic as well as international crisis.
He said the GSP Plus bill was under discussion and he had already met ambassadors of Germany and Belgium.
“I have also contacted various political parties of the UK for the approval of the bill,” he said and added that the GSP Plus status would create at least one million jobs in Pakistan in addition boost exports to EU countries.
He disclosed that eight Pakistani Members of UK Parliament were also on board and supporting the GSP Plus Status for Pakistan.
He said he would also visit the UK and other European countries to get support for the bill. He commended the business community of Pakistan and said that they knew how to deal with crisis and the international community is also aware of their resilient qualities. He said the energy crisis had hit the business community but it not only survived and was boldly facing the situation.
He said the prime minister was fully aware of the energy crisis and was making efforts to resolve it on war-footing. He said that dams were imperative to store water and generate cheap electricity in addition to saving people from rains and floods.
He also commended philanthropist works of the FCCI and said that he was in KP and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) during the earthquake and he was pleased to know that major relief consignments came from the FCCI.
He hoped that the business community of FCCI would continue to help affected people of rains and floods. He also pinpointed that water would be the emerging crisis for Pakistan and it must formulate a comprehensive strategy to tackle the issue.
He said the business community was creating wealth and playing a major role in earning precious foreign exchange and we are duty bound to pay them due respect.
He said, “If we succeed in earning sufficient foreign exchange, we can change the fate of the country.” He said that education was prerequisite to resolve our problems but it was discouraging that seven million children were still out of school and those who have been enrolled were deprived of clean drinking water.
The governor said that it was not a very costly plant as it costs only Rs.4 lakh which could cater to the need of 500-1000 children.
He said he will himself launch a movement in collaboration with the international business community, NGOs and other philanthropists to join with him to provide the facility to students of Pakistan. He said that efforts would also be made to provide missing facilities to schools.
He commended the effort of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and said in partnership with international NGOs, missing facilities would be ensured in schools. However, he pinpointed the dilemma of the absence of teachers from schools and said, “I will ask the education department to carve out a strategy to ensure 100 percent presence of teachers.” He also said the Punjab chief minister had displayed unique courage to confess that he could not fully resolve the issues of education and Thana culture. However, the two issues were still on top of his agenda and serious efforts are being made to resolve the issues without any further delay, he added.
The governor said that when he was elected Member British Parliament, the total aid to Pakistan was 17 million pounds and at the time Mr. Gordon Brown was Foreign Minister and Chancellor, when the Labour Party relinquished his charge in 2010, the aid to Pakistan was 500 million pounds.
He said that Gordon Brown was now global envoy on education and he was visiting Pakistan very soon and we would succeed in sending 7 million children to school with the help of the international community.
Regarding Railways, he said that 50-60 percent railway operation consisted of transport worldwide which was zero in our case.
He said that railway goods train were at least 50pc cheaper which also played a major role in saving roads and other infrastructure from wear and tear. He said the railway minister was fully concentrating on the issue. Regarding India-Pakistan relations he said that good neighborly ties were beneficial not only for Pakistan but also for poor people living in India. He said the leadership of two countries should realize it and resolve their regional problems through negotiation. As regards upgradation of Faisalabad Airport, he asked local MNAs to work on it as people had voted them to power and they were justified in pinning hopes on them. He said he would also support them.
The governor assured them of work with commitment and dedication so that people could remember him after leaving the portfolio.
Earlier, in his welcome address, President FCCI Mian Zahid Aslam, said the energy crisis had inflicted colossal losses on the economy. Various industries are operating on 30 percent of their installed capacity, he added.
He requested the governor to exploit his office and resolve fundamental issues of businessmen. He demanded increase in sanctioned electricity quota for Faisalabad and commissioning of an abandoned 350 MW steam power gas station with its total generation dedicated to Faisalabad.
He said that the business community had full faith in the present government and it should also reciprocate in the same sense and spirit.
He also demanded up-gradation of Faisalabad Airport, shifting of Gattwala Toll Plaza to outskirts of Khurarianwala, establishment of a High Court bench, Expo Center, provision of clean drinking water, up-gradation of Civil Hospital to Medical College, construction of new short-cut road from Faisalabad to Lahore, representation of the Faisalabad chamber in all governing bodies and syndicates of government degree awarding institutions.
Later, FCCI mementos were also presented to other dignitaries. Ch Muhammad Boota presented a vote of thanks to the guests.