Karachi/ HUB    -  Prime Minister Imran Khan has said his government will support joint investment projects involving companies from Pakistan and China under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Addressing the inauguration ceremony of the 1,320-megawatt China Hub Power Generation Plant in Hub district of Balochistan on Monday, he said that he wanted to see the pattern of joint projects continue under the mega Corridor project.

The prime minister said clean governance and business-friendly policies enforced by the incumbent government were attracting giant firms from across the world to invest in multiple sectors of Pakistan.

He said the red tape used to impede the foreign investment in the past; however the current government was making dedicated efforts to bring ease of doing business. He added that big Chinese companies also want to come to Pakistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said the inauguration of the power project was pleasing for it being the first one having been executed in partnership between Pakistani and Chinese firms under CPEC.

He said his government desired to see such joint projects in future also and asked the local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to collaborate with the Chinese firms interested to invest in Pakistan. He also assured that the government would fully assist and facilitate such an engagement.

The inauguration ceremony was also attended by Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan, Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan Yao Jing and senior officials of the Chinese contractor firm.

Congratulating the firms for successfully executing the project, the premier asked them to utilize at least 20 percent coal from Thar Coal to save the foreign reserves to help address a major issue of current account deficit confronting the national economy.

He said the government had inherited a record current account deficit, which had put the local currency under pressure causing inflation and other allied economic challenges.

The prime minister told the gathering that the government desired to promote power generation through indigenous resources as the country was rich in hydro power potential of around 50,000 MW.

He said huge resources of gas and coal also remained untapped, which otherwise could have saved huge foreign reserves currently used to import oil to fuel the power plants.

The prime minister also asked the contractor firm to expedite work on the desalination plant in Karachi to address the serious issue of drinking water in the city.

Referring to the immense potential of mining and investment in Balochistan, he asked the Balochistan chief minister to develop special economic zones in Lasbella to facilitate the Chinese firms desiring to relocate to Pakistan.

PM Khan said the foreign firm, which had won the litigation against Pakistan in Reko Diq case imposing $6 billion fine on the country, had again shown interest in the project.

He said the company was in negotiation with Pakistan as during his interaction with him in the United States, the company chief had told him that Pakistan had the biggest quality of gold reserves. The company was interested to resume working on the project owing to the transparent policies of the government, he added.

The prime minister said Pakistan had been deprived of billions of dollars due to corruption. Not only that firm, many other companies too, including an Australian mining giant, were also interested to invest in Pakistan. He reiterated that investment could not be attracted until the country was purged of corruption.

He said CPEC was a golden opportunity for Pakistan. Previously, CPEC had been limited to roads and power projects; however now it was being expanded to fisheries and agriculture sectors also to enhance the productivity.

The prime minister said China was establishing skill training centres in Pakistan to train the young population of Pakistan, which could propel the national economy.

Earlier, addressing the ceremony, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan said Lasbella was a unique district with huge reserves of marbles and investment opportunities.

He said Balochistan was open to the people to invest as the incumbent government was taking keen interest to attract the investment. Balochistan is the province which would give boost to the economic frontiers of Pakistan in future, he added.

He said the provinces had best places for production of renewable energy and asked the Chinese firms to exploit the potential.

Karachi meetings

Prime Minister Imran Khan also visited Karachi on Monday and spent a busy day at the governor House, holding meetings with his party lawmakers and leaders of the coalition partners.

He was accompanied during these meetings by Governor Imran Ismail, Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Azam Swati, Planning Minister Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Zaidi, Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda, Special Assistant Nadeem Babar and Member of National Assembly Asad Umar during the meetings.

The prime minister assured a delegation of PTI Sindh lawmakers, comprising Firdous Shamim Naqvi, Haleem Adil Shaikh, Khurram Sher Zaman and others, that the federal government would play its role in resolving water, transport, waste management and other issues of the port city.

“Although the provincial government is primarily responsible for resolving the city issues but keeping in view of the public welfare, the federal government will also contribute in resolving these issues,” he said.

After complaints from the Sindh party lawmakers about inaccessibility to the federal cabinet members during their visits to city, the prime minister directed his cabinet members to improve coordination with the elected party lawmakers.

Calling Karachi as the country’s economic hub, the prime minister regretted that previous governments ignored the problems of the metropolitan and its residents.

Corruption was the major reason behind poor situation of administration in Karachi, he said and added that the previous governments had failed in resolving issues of the city.

Imran Khan mentioned that his government inherited the heaviest burden of fiscal debt, adding that steps were being taken to improve the financial situation.

The lawmakers were also briefed over the ongoing and under consideration projects of the city by federal minister Khusro Bakhtiar.

A Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan delegation led by federal minister Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui also called on the prime minister and raised issues pertaining to missing activists, closed party offices, uplift projects’ funds for mayors in Karachi and Hyderabad and other issues.

The prime minister told the MQM-P delegation that his government was conscious of the basic challenges faced by the residents of Karachi and was fully committed to address those on a long-term basis.

The prime minister said the country’s commercial hub could not be ignored and the federal government would ensure that its potential was fully explored. He said a pragmatic approach was needed to resolve the mega city’s problems.

A delegation of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) also called upon the prime minister and informed him about the issues being faced by their constituents.

Prime Minister Khan assured them that the ‘Ehsaas’ and ‘Sehat Insaf’ programmes will be expanded to the interior parts of the Sindh province to ensure availability of basic facilities to citizens.

He applauded the GDA lawmaker Moazzam Abbasi for defeating PPP candidate in the party stronghold Larkana and accepted his invitation to address a public gathering in the area.