LAHORE - Newly-elected President of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Shahzad Ali Malik has said that building national consensus for construction of mega dams would be his top priority that are vital for sustained economic growth of the country. Shahzad Ali Malik said that he would require cooperation and help from the entire Executive Committee of the Lahore Chamber to achieve this aim. He was addressing the members of the Lahore Chamber of commerce and industry at the Annual General Meeting. The meeting presided over by Election Commissioners Nadir Kamal Usman and Asim Qadri was also attended by the outgoing LCCI President Zafar Iqbal Chaudhry, outgoing Senior Vice President Ijaz A. Mumtaz, former Presidents Mian Tajammal Hussain, Mohsin Raza Bukhari, Iftikhar Ali Malik, Mian Muhammad Ashraf, Salahuddin Ahmad Sahaf, Sheikh Muhammad Asif, Yawar Irfan Khan, Mian Anjum Nisar, Mian Misbah-ur-Rehman, Mian Shafqat Ali, Shahid Hassan Sheikh, Muhammad Ali Mian, Mian Muzaffar Ali, former Senior Vice President Sohail Lashari & former Vice President Aftab Ahmad Vohra. Shahzad Ali Malik said that the issue of Kalabagh Dam had unduly been politicized. He said that we have thrown 54 million acres ft. of water in the sea this year but the country would still face water shortage of 10-15 percent because we have failed to build any big water reservoir in past 35 years. He said more availability of water through dams would ensure food security of the country besides ensuring availability of some vital raw materials of the industry. Low cost power he added would be an additional benefit as the country currently is facing dual problem of power shortage and high cost. Shahzad Ali Malik said that the early establishment of Sheikhupura Dry Port would also be on his priority list as it is the need of the hour. He said that a special focus would be given to the revival of agro-based industry as the recent floods have caused unprecedented loss to a large number of crops. He said country has lost substantial quantity of cotton and irri rice has also been badly damaged that would put pressure on rice mills and textile industry. He said that the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry would explore lucrative markets in China, Turkey, Central Asian States and African countries so that the volume of exports could be enhanced to the required and desired levels. Market access to European Union and United States of America will also be a high priority. The LCCI President said that revamping of R&D Dept is one of the objectives that would be pursued during his tenure as the entire country was suffering due to unavailability of sector-specific data. He said that R & D Department was established in 1985 by the then LCCI President Mian Shahbaz Sharif which made the LCCI of the country. He said that Research and Development was an area which if was given proper attention could do miracles. He said that he would, in collaboration with his fellow businessmen, work for the promotion of Research culture in Pakistan. He said that construction of well-equipped parking plazas in the city would also be focused during the year as not only the business activities were badly suffering due to non-availability of parking plazas but all the City traffic related problems were because of non-availability of proper parking space. The LCCI Senior Vice President Sheikh Muhammad Arshad said that high mark-up was crushing the whole industrial sector like anything and the newly elected office-bearers would take up the issue with the Governor State Bank of Pakistan. He said that simplification of taxes would also be taken up with concerned authorities as existing number of taxes was higher than anywhere in the world. He said that the main objective of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry was promotion of trade and industry and all available resources would be utilized for economic turnaround as the economic meltdown had now started taking its toll and everybody is feeling the heat. The LCCI Vice President Sohail Azhar said that market visits and a consistent liaison with the fellow businessmen would be the corner stone of his working as Vice President of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Speaking on the occasion, the outgoing President Zafar Iqbal Chaudhry presented a detailed report of his performance during the year and paid rich tributes to different departments.