PM lays foundation stone of business district in Lahore

LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday laid the foundation stone of the ambitious Central Business District (CBD) project at the Walton Airport site, asserting that the project would help create much-needed wealth to pay off foreign loans that had accumulated over the past ‘decade of darkness’.

“It is an ‘out-of-the-box’ initiative to create wealth, overcome fiscal as well as current account deficit and sustain the country’s economy,” Mr Khan said while speaking at the foundation stone-laying ceremony. “It is high time to increase the country’s income and decrease expenditures to come out of the quagmire of fiscal and current account deficit,” he said.

Announcing that the Walton Airport would soon be de-notified, the prime minister said an economic hub would be created as many high-rises would also be constructed along the Gulberg Main Boulevard and Ferozepur Road. In the first phase alone, Mr Khan said some Rs1,300 billion would be generated that would offer some Rs250 billion to the federal government in the tax revenue.

The prime minister said that both the CBD and Ravi City projects would help control unplanned growth of Lahore and the vertical construction of buildings would also fulfil accommodation needs of the city. He said unplanned expansion of cities like Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad had made it difficult to ensure civic amenities to all.

By shifting the Walton Airport from the centre of the city, the prime minister said, some much-needed Rs6,000 billion would be generated. He, however, expressed his dismay over the cold response from provincial ministers and lawmakers present there and complained that they did not even acknowledge such a mega project to generate wealth. The venue later continued resounding with applause as the prime minister narrated achievements of his government.

Says scheme will help create much-needed wealth to pay off foreign loans

Regretting that the previous government had left all-time high $20 billion deficit for the PTI government, he said these two mega projects would propel inflow of dollars as even Overseas Pakistanis would be interested in investing in these projects.

Addressing environmentalists and members of civil society’s concerns that trees would be felled to give way to concrete buildings, the prime minister said that he himself was an environmentalist as he had launched a project of planting one billion trees in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that had been acknowledged internationally.

Besides a tree cover in the city, the prime minister said the CBD and the Ravi City would be established by ensuring sustainable energy conservation.

The prime minister said that the Naya Pakistan Housing Project would help the salaried and low-income groups to buy flats. He said banks had also been involved to offer small loans to the low-income groups so that they could materialise their dreams of having their own homes. He lauded Chief Minister Usman Buzdar for materialising the Naya Pakistan Housing Project in a record time.

The prime minister told the audience that the government had signed a revised contract with Qatar for the procurement of LNG that would help the country save $300 million every year in comparison with the previous government’s contract with Qatar.

Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said that the Lahore Central Business District would be completed in three phases over an area of 300 acres. He said the first phase would be developed over an area of 128 acres. “The first phase will be followed by a digital and a residential district in the next phase.”

The prime minister later held a one-to-one meeting with the chief minister and discussed progress on various development projects as well as prevailing political situation in the province.

Meanwhile, the Lahore flying club has already moved the Lahore High Court against the government move.

A writ petition filed through Lahore Flying Club President Makhdoom Syed Ahmad Mahmud stated that the government promulgated Lahore Central Business District Development Authority Ordinance, 2021, on Feb 4 in violation of law to abruptly close down operations of the club. The court will take up the case on Tuesday.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2021

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