Imran Khan
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Image Credit: Supplied

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday said that with 2019 being the year of difficulties and economic stabilisation, 2020 would prove as the year of economic development for Pakistan.

“During the year 2020, the focus will be on economic growth, job creation, poverty reduction and the uplift of poor through Ehsaas programme,” he said while addressing the launch ceremony of Pakistan Post initiative for delivery of remittances by overseas Pakistanis through 500 designated post offices in various cities.

The prime minister said that the vision for Naya Pakistan was based upon discarding the old mindset and patronising merit system, adding that the systems in the past had badly hampered the functioning of all the government departments.

He said the vision of Naya Pakistan would nurture a tendency of making new thoughts, coupled with innovative ideas to make the lives of people easier.

Drawing at length the difference between monarchy and democracy, the Prime Minister observed that in the past, the rulers wanted the people to serve them.

The British rulers did not come to serve the people in the subcontinent, rather they looked upon the people as their servants, he said, adding that in the democratic set-up, the rulers had to serve the people.

The prime minister lamented that even after independence, people did not change their mindset and officials at the public offices continued with the same strand of ruling elite.

He said that the country would attain a greater status if the public interests were secured, a system in which schools and hospitals functioned like the private ones.

“It was indeed unfortunate, but the change of mindset will ultimately take place though it would take time. During the cabinet meetings, I regularly ask the ministers about such changes,” he added.

Referring to the functioning of Pakistan Post, the prime minister said that due to recent introduction of merit system, it had turned into a profit making entity.

“The system in a country becomes successful due to merit system. In democracy, conditions of the people rise due to prevalence of merit. The West shifted from monarchy to democracy, but our countries went to the opposite side,” he observed and cited the progress of China due to introduction of merit system there under the leadership of President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang who had worked tirelessly for many decades.

The prime minister said that efforts were being made by his government to help the merit system prevail and counted recent drastic measures to make the PIA a profit making organisation and curbing the losses of Rs100 billion (Dh2.37 billion) in power sector.

He said that the year 2019 had been the difficult one due to various challenges and financial difficulties and expressed the resolve to lift the country out of these challenges.

Initiatives for overseas Pakistanis

The prime minister said that a scheme was on the anvil to give some sort of prizes or special cards including health card to families of overseas Pakistani labour class for sending remittances through legal channels.

He said he was aware of the hardships and ordeals they suffered abroad to earn their livelihood.

The prime minister appreciated overseas Pakistanis’ contribution towards the national economy and said that his government would take all measures to facilitate them.

In the past, the embassies and missions did not look into their issues, but he had given special instructions and now special attention was paid to their problems, he added.

He observed that the overseas Pakistanis should be provided with facilities and extra steps should be taken to resolve their issues and if they send their remittances through legal channels, they should be given the incentives.

The prime minister expressed confidence that the Pakistan Post initiative would be helpful for those working in hard conditions abroad as a total of 500 centres would be functioning to facilitate them.

Minister for Communications and Postal Services Murad Saeed gave an overview of the steps taken to make Pakistan Post fully functional and profitable with the launch of various initiatives.

He said that by the end of next year, Pakistan Post would become the largest banking network in the country in line with the vision of the prime minister. Under the initiative each postman would be a banker facilitating the people at their doorsteps, he added.

The minister said that the previous rulers had inflicted losses on the government entities which were suffering huge losses. The Pakistan Post had been running into losses to the tune of Rs61 billion, he added.

He expressed the confidence that the receivables of the Post would increase beyond 71 per cent.

He said that the ministry had not sought supplementary grant from the government exchequer and launched initiatives on its own resources.

Murad Saeed criticising the past rulers said that they had left huge deficit and losses in the government owned entities like Pakistan Post.

Restorationof public confidence

He said they had restored public confidence through activation of mobile apps.

The introduction of Urgent Mail Service (UMS) had become very successful besides the same day delivery service which was a step to compete with the private postal services, he added.

The minister said that in collaboration with NADRA, a total of 12,000 franchise post offices would be established and their number would be increased to 27,000 throughout the country.

Through the e-commerce initiative, a total of 1,575 people started their own businesses and were greatly benefited with this facility, he added.

Secretary Communications Jawad Rafiq Malik in his welcome remarks briefed the participants about various achievements of Pakistan Post during the last one and half years.

Under the Pakistan Remittance Initiative (PRI), launched on Tuesday, the remittance beneficiaries by using the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) portal could collect their payments free of any charges from the 500 post office locations.

By tapping the synergistic benefits of Pakistan Post’s vast post office network and NBP’s expertise in the remittance business, the initiative will facilitate faster, cheaper and more convenient flow of remittances into Pakistan; encourage overseas Pakistanis to remit their cash through legal means which would eventually lead to boost foreign exchange reserves of the country, and discourage the transfer of funds from foreign countries through illegal means i.e. Hawala, Hundi.