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Customs has to play a crucial role in CPEC: Ahsan Iqbal

Customs has to play a crucial role in CPEC: Ahsan Iqbal

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal has asked Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to finalise a detailed plan to ensure its crucial role in China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by setting up business-friendly and state-of-the-art documentation system, monitoring and implementation as well as evaluation and assessment mechanism.

He issued these instructions while addressing a ‘Business and Research Seminar on China Pakistan Economic Corridor’ organised by Directorate of Training and Research (Customs), FBR. Planning, Development & Reforms Secretary Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui was also present on the occasion while CPEC Project Director Hassan Daud Butt briefed the participants regarding CPEC projects.

The minister noted that Customs has to play a crucial role in CPEC to facilitate effective channels for engaging Pakistan in global supply chain and assist in developing Pakistan’s market oriented economy and industries. He said that Pakistan needs to synergise with fast industrialisation process and innovations in technologies to ensure rapid growth and inclusive development in the country.

CPEC has provided an opportunity to promote new markets and connectivity across the entire region and there is need for further cooperation, the minister remarked while highlighting impact of CPEC on Pakistan and the region. He said that historically all countries progressed by virtue of partnerships, adding that Japan and South Korea had developed due to the US, and India progressed due to alliance first with USSR and now with the US. Days of non-alignment are over, he added.

Ahsan said that Pakistan was lucky to have a time tested relationship with China. “Our Vision 2025 and China’s Annual Plan complement each other. He said CPEC has transformed this bilateral relation from strategic into economic nature. CPEC is fastest developing corridor in entire Belt and Road Initiative and a number of its early harvest projects are attaining completion, he added.

Pakistan has completed Sahiwal Coal Fired plant in record time, setting a precedent that together, Pakistan and China can do wonders, Ahsan added. “Today is the age of discovery, innovation and speed wherein old concepts as well as paradigms have become redundant,” the minister noted.

The minister said that ‘4Is’; investment, industries, information and individuals are crucial for development of any country. Every country has to attract global investment and make country attractive investment destination. Security, stability of policies and sustainable growth paves way for ensuring an attractive investment destination, he added. He said that engaging country in global supply chain is crucial for industrial development. “Today, manufacturing has taken shape of global supply chain as industries are going global. Toyota Japanese automobile industries are producing more vehicles in the US than Japan,” he added.

He said that in 2013, Pakistan was facing 18 to 20 hours of power outages and the country had a serious threat of civil war, whereas, industries were packing up and multi nationals were leaving Pakistan. “We were at brink of default in 2014,” he added. He said that the present government had developed Vision 2025 to build a long term development plan which has put Pakistan back to centre stage of economic growth.

“We aim to enlist Pakistan in top 25 economies of the world. “Today, deficit is down to 5 percent of overall GDP and foreign reserves have risen to $22 billion while Pakistan Stock Exchange index has gone to 50,000 points until recent political instability and negativity that has done huge harm to our development progress,” he said.

The minister said, “Four auto mobile companies have expressed interest in investment in Pakistan, while there will be more interest in investment from around the world provided that we develop internal harmony and ensure political stability.”