By Muhammad Saleem, Business Recorder, Sept. 15, 2012.
The energy crisis is the mother of all problems in Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari said at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s 8th Achievement Awards ceremony, which was held on Friday at the Governor House.
The president said his party’s government is committed to overcoming electricity and gas shortages in the country and is focused on diversification to ensure energy affordability and security. Zardari said short-, medium- and long-term measures have been put in place to tackle the crisis and ensure that the economy stays on the rails.
“Had the energy policy of the PPP government not been reversed in the mid-90s, there would have been no power crisis today,” said Zardari, adding that the continuity of policy frameworks and incentives must be demanded by the business community and protected by law. Such reversals should not happen without debate in Parliament, he said.
Zardari recognized the security problems confronting Pakistan and its business community and lauded local and foreign entrepreneurs for maintaining faith in the economy. The war on terror has cost Pakistan tens of thousands of lives and adversely impacted social protection programs, which are struggling for resources, he said.
While the president noted that the EU has granted Pakistan preferential market access, he said other markets have yet to open up for Pakistani producers. “We have won access to the European market,” he said. “This will go a long way in strengthening our economy.” Zardari said the granting of most-favorable-nation status to India would encourage trade and yield a peace dividend. The president asked the private sector to provide their plans for the national economy and brainstorm with the government. He also appreciated the LCCI for honoring entrepreneurs and shining a light on them as role models for society.
Iqbal Z. Ahmed, chairman and chief executive of JJVL, received the top honor, the President of Pakistan Trophy for outstanding contributions to the economy. Mian Amir Mehmood, former mayor of Lahore who has business interests in education and media, won the Son of the Soil award for his support to initiatives that have improved the city.
Punjab’s Gov. Sardar Latif Khosa and members of the federal cabinet also attended the awards ceremony.
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