LAHORE - Prime Minister Imran Khan spent a busy day in the provincial capital on Thursday, receiving briefings on inflation, health sector reforms and industrial policy, besides holding separate meetings with Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and representatives of traders.

The PM, who had arrived in the city in the morning, was welcomed by CM Buzdar. Besides Punjab CM, Special Assistants to PM Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Naeemul Haq and Nadeem Afzal Chan, Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid, Minister for Industries Mian Aslam Iqbal, Minister for Finance Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht, Chief Secretary Yousuf Nasim Khokhar and top government officials attended the briefings. 

Perturbed over high inflation and the resulting difficulties for the common man, the PM directed that immediate measures be taken for providing relief to the masses. He ordered action against hoarders and those responsible for artificial surge in the prices of essential commodities.

Adviser to the CM Dr Salman Shah briefed the PM about the steps taken by the Punjab government for social and economic progress of the province by ensuring progress in agriculture, industrial and other sectors.

The PM urged effective utilization of allocated funds and improvement of service delivery at hospitals. He directed extending the facility of Sehat Insaf Card to the less developed areas.

During briefing on the industrial sector, Imran Khan stressed the need for emulating Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s successful model of industrial growth. He also urged benefitting from the database of Ehsaas programme for the disbursement of industrial loans.

The briefing focused on measures for the creation of job opportunities, ease of doing business, increasing skilled workforce, provision of interest-free loans, increasing ratio of low-markup loans to women, online portal for starting businesses and establishment of special economic zones.

During meeting with the office-bearers of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), the PM was apprised about the issues of ease of doing business and industrial zoning. The business community appreciated government’s measures taken for documentation of the economy as well as tax reforms. The LCCI representatives also apprised the PM of their plan to plant 100,000 trees in Lahore and requested him to grace the opening ceremony of the campaign.

Imran Khan stressed the need for devising a strategy for industrial zoning and town planning to overcome environmental and civic issues. He said these important issues were ignored in the past that led to increased pollution and civic problems. He told the business community about the measures taken by the government for ease of doing business.

The PM said that Pakistan was one of the fastest growing economies in Asia in 1960’s. “Unfortunately, the country lost the momentum due to negative mindset,” he said, adding industrial growth was necessary for job creation. He assured the business community that all their problems would be resolved on a war footing.

The overall situation in the province, its development and welfare of people came under discussion during one-on-one meeting of the PM with the CM.

Imran was also given a briefing on the measures being taken by the Punjab government to uplift the agriculture sector, including the launch of agriculture credit card and internship scheme for graduates of the Agriculture University.

The participants were informed that the provincial government had taken unprecedented measures to facilitate the farmers including provision of subsidy to financially support the agriculture sector.

They were also informed that the present government had allocated funds for the agriculture sector more than those allocated during the last decade.

The briefing also focused on the launch of projects to enhance the yields of wheat, sugarcane, cotton and rice, sufficient flow in water channels, increase of small water reservoirs in arid areas, promotion of floraculture and others.

The participants were told about the credit limit of the agriculture credit card, registration and e-marketing of the programme.

They were informed that the programme would provide direct employment to around 0.29 million people and around 1.5 million people indirectly.