ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Senator Ishaq Dar Friday blamed the outgoing Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government for failing to secure the Main Line-1 (ML-1) project with China due to which he claimed that the project cost had almost doubled.
Addressing the inaugural ceremony of Green Line Train Project here, the minister said the cost of ML-1 was project at $6 billion under $46 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, however due to failure by the previous regime for not executing on time; it may cost now $11 billion to $12 billion.
“This is legacy of previous government which this government inherited. They [previous government] should have actually implemented that but they could not,” the minister said.
The minister congratulated Federal Minister for Railways, Khawaja Saad Rafiq for reviving the impressive Green Line Railway service.
The minister also highlighted the importance of commercialization of railway track, which he said would not only help Railways to stand on its own feet but would make it profit-earning organization to contribute in the national economy.
He also underlined the importance for utilizing Railways for freight transport which he said could minimizing the transport cost to a great extent. The minister said that Pakistan had become 24th largest economy in 2016 however owing to PTI inabilities it stood at 47th number last year. He highlighted the importance of investigating the reasons behind this downfall.
He said, Pakistan Muslim League (N) government had turned around economy at a time when it was predicted to default within a period of 6 months back in 2013.
He said, during the past PML(N) tenure, food inflation was just 2 percent; general inflation 4.6 percent whereas GDP was recorded at 6.8 percent with highest foreign reserves adding the Pakistan Stock Exchange was best in South Asia and 5th best performing in the world.
He said, at that time all world organization were looking towards Pakistan, which was predicted to be second choicest investment destination. He however deplored that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf ruined all this progress.
The minister said, Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif has been meeting many challenges and expressed the hope that he would pull the country out of quagmire.
Meanwhile, speaking on the occasion, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal said that railways act as a backbone for the economy, and its development was directly linked with the economic development.
He said the PML-N government started ML-1 railway project under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2017-18 which was aimed at modernizing the railway sector in Pakistan besides increasing the speed of the trains up to 160 kilometers per hour.
However, he said the successive PTI government did not give importance to this project due to which progress on the project stopped. Ahsan Iqbal said the country's economy must have to be based on export led growth as the exports need to jump from current $32 billion per year to over $100 billion in few years.
He said just as Pakistan is paying price of the global carbon emissions due to which the country had to bear loss of over $30 billion after disastrous flooding last year, the current government is also paying the price of irrational economic decisions and policies of the previous government.
However he resolved to put full force to undo the wrong policies of the previous government and to put the country's economy again on the path of rapid growth and development.