Economic growth not possible without political stability: minister

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– Sh Rashid says the govt had no other option but to approach IMF for assistance

– KCCI official says the business community had cautioned PM Imran before elections that ‘corrupt bureaucracy’ will not allow him to introduce reforms 

KARACHI: Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said on Saturday that under the current economic crisis, going to the International Monetary Fund was inevitable.

“I, as a minister, have been reiterating this since day one that we have no other option but to approach the IMF for assistance,” he said in a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI). “There could be no economic growth without political stability,” he added.

Businessmen Group Chairman & former KCCI president Siraj Kassam Teli, BMG Vice Chairmen Zubair Motiwala and Anjum Nisar, General Secretary AQ Khalil, KCCI President Junaid Esmail Makda, Senior Vice President Khurram Shahzad, Vice President Asif Sheikh Javaid, MNA Aftab Jahangir, Pakistan Railways CEO Aftab Akbar and KCCI managing committee members were also present on the occasion.

Highlighting the improved performance of Pakistan Railways (PR), the minister said that PR has earned Rs4 billion more as compared to the revenue generated during the same period of last year.

“We have provided three more container trains to the business community while the number of freight trains during the last nine months has enhanced from just eight to 14,” he claimed.

The minister said that a total of 24 new trains have been initiated so far of which five categories have been defined for different types of passengers while the occupancy of Rehman Baba Train has reached 160pc with improved earnings.

“We have also initiated Jinnah Express and Green Line which will be followed by Sir Syed Express. Our target is to attract all types of customers and our overall strategies have been very successful so far.”

Referring to the 1,760km long ML-1 project from Karachi to Peshawar, the minister said that in this regard, Prime Minister Imran Khan will be signing an agreement on 27th April which would result in the laying of a completely new double track from Karachi to Peshawar with fencing on both sides and a minimum speed of 160Kms. Work on this project will be completed in the next five years, he added.

Commenting on Karachi Circular Railway Project, the minister committed that as soon as the Sindh government signs agreement, approves the design and feasibility, Pakistan Railway will remove all encroachments, of which many of the commercial encroachments have already been removed, and hand over the track to Sindh government.

“If KCR is not completed during our tenure, it will never be completed,” he stated, adding that it was an essential project which has become part of CPEC.

Responding to a suggestion, he invited the business community to undertake joint venture to set up the proposed parking plaza on PR land at II Chundrigar Road “but Pakistan Railways must get its share regardless of whether the parking plaza becomes successful or not”.

Speaking on the occasion, Businessmen Group Chairman & former KCCI president Siraj Kassam Teli, while referring to PM Imran Khan’s last year’s visit to Karachi on July 22, 2018, just a couple of days before the general election, requested the Sheikh Rasheed to ask the PM to honour all his commitments to KCCI.

He said, “During the said meeting, we suggested removal of all those individuals who are involved in wrongdoings and corruption. We had cautioned that the corrupt bureaucracy will not allow Imran Khan to take remedial measures and that these elements have to be pinpointed and sidelined while the honest officers must be brought forward to take charge of important positions.”

“However, except a few nominal changes, no major change was witnessed in the Federal Board of Revenue, National Accountability Bureau and Federal Investigation Agency and the same old corrupt elements were given freehand, allowed to continue their wrongdoings and asked to make corrections,” he added.

Referring to a letter sent to PM Imran Khan, Siraj Teli said that the private sector’s representatives, who work on the boards of public sector companies such as Karachi Port Trust (KPT), Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) etc., take/endorse decisions purely on the basis of whatever information is provided to them at the board meeting of any particular public sector company and that information may not be correct or may be incomplete.

“However, after a number of years when FIA or NAB find anything wrong in these public sector companies, they immediately start pursuing private sector representatives who have got nothing to do with the day-to-day activities of the public sector companies,” he added.

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