By Asad Cheema
ISLAMABAD: Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi Thursday said the new shipping policy introduced by the government would help promoting blue economy in the country. Participating in the budget debate in the National Assembly, he said the maritime related blue economic sector remained neglected during past governments, but the incumbent government took several initiatives to exploit this sector.
He said today was international seafarers day and the ministry had a plan to train maximum number of people as seafarers to send them abroad and work in foreign flag vessels. He said Pakistan seafarers who were working abroad send only $50 million remittances annually however a country like Philippines receive over $6 billion per year from their seafarers working abroad.
The minister said during his tenure, Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) paid back loans of Rs 4.7 billion, while Karachi Port Trust recovered damages of Rs 2.2 billion. Further, he informed that since 2010 no audit of KPT and Port Qasim had been conducted in the past and now the current government started the process of audit.
He said in March and April current year, record 270 vessels were handled by the port Qasim despite COVID-19. The minister added that the whole world was passing through an unprecedented time when even the strongest economies were facing worst economic crisis. However, he said the whole world was praising the Prime Minister Imran Khanâ€™s decisions of minimizing suffering of people due to lockdown during the pandemic. He said under Ehsaas package, Rs 12000 each were paid to over 10 million deserving families.
Moreover, he said attractive packages were also announced for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector. He informed that according to World Economic Outlook, economy of US shrank by 8 percent, that of UK shrank by 10 percent, while Russia, South Africa, Malaysia and India also faced economic slowdown of 6 percent, 6 percent, 3percent, and 4.4 percent respectively. However, he mentioned, Pakistanâ€™s economy shrank by only 0.4%.
Criticizing the worst situation of health and education sectors in Sindh province, the minister said the provincial government should focus it attention on these sectors. Participating in the budget debate, Chief Whip and PTI MNA Malik Aamir Dogar highlighted the various aspects of the budget and stressed to control the population. Dogar said a balanced budget has been presented for the next fiscal year in face of the challenge posed by COVID-19 pandemic. He expressed the confidence the government will deliver on its promises as per the expectations of the masses.
He said that Rs 150 billion were allocated for â€˜Ehasas Cash Programâ€™ out of which Rs 132.98 billions had been disbursed among the needy persons. He appreciated Prime Minister Imran Khan and head of â€˜Ehsas Cash Programâ€™ Sania Nishtar for taking successful initiatives to mitigate the sufferings of people. Malik Aamir Dogar said that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a game changer for the entire region.