Foreign loans parasitizing national wealth: Altaf Shakoor

Karachi: Foreign debt is a parasite to our national wealth and economy, devouring almost one-third of our annual budget, but the rulers are opting getting more and more foreign loans instead of generating more revenue, locally, said Pasban e Pakistan President Altaf Shakoor here Monday.He said that in the current annual budget a hefty amount of Rs1.607 trillion or 30.7% of the proposed budget was earmarked for debt serving. The original debt servicing cost in the outgoing fiscal year was Rs1.364 trillion which has now jacked by Rs243 billion or 17.8% for the next year. He said that 30 percent budget for foreign loans means that out of every 100 rupees we earn Rs30 goes for paying loans and their interest.Commenting on a recent development that China has agreed to roll over a loan of $500 million that it has placed with the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) as the country’s official foreign currency reserves remain in a precarious position despite taking $44 billion in foreign loans in the past around five years, he said instead of depending on external debt we should develop our economy to generate more resources.Altaf Shakoor said the easiest method to augment economy and generate more revenue is to develop our sagging urban economy. He said developing megacities is the cornerstone of developing urban economies. He said two megacities of Pakistan, Karachi and Lahore, still go neglected in terms of modern urban development. He said due to relatively better governance of PML-N government in Punjab, Lahore is in a better shape, but Karachi is a modern version of Mohenjo Daro due to huge corruption in government sector.He said the megacity Karachi, if developed seriously, can generate trillions of rupees and help Pakistan getting rid of costly foreign loans and their neck breaking interest. He said the citizens of Karachi have been demanding for long to give a megacity governance system to the port city and make a constitutional amendment to insert a new section or clause about the megacities in local government system, but our major political parties are not interested in giving the megacities of the country, especially Karachi, their due rights. He reminded that recently Pasban has staged a big megacity rally in Karachi, which was greeted by the Karachiites. He said we would continue to raise voice for the megacity rights and this is also our election slogan.He said we demand revamping urban public transport system in Karachi as without a modern urban commuting system no urban city could develop and prosper. He said Punjab rulers have already upgraded their urban transport system and today Lahore is among the most developed megacities of world in terms of urban commuting. He said while Lahore in enjoying metro train, rulers of Sindh are still thinking how to revive the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR).Pasban leader said that the Karachiites envision their city as a megacity of industries and trade, a home of jobs and an engine of economic growth. He said to end rampant joblessness in the megacity it is necessary to convert Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway and Karachi-Keti Bandar road as economic corridors on the pattern of Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. He said if the federal, Sindh and city government of Karachi show seriousness and strong political will to develop Karachi-Hyderabad Economic Corridor and Karachi-Keti Bandar Economic Corridor, not a single person in this province could remain jobless.He also demanded to open at least one university and one teaching hospital in each Town of Karachi, adding the megacity needs world class healthcare institutes to serve its citizens and also to attract international medical tourism.He asked the rulers to shun the malpractice of getting more and more costly loans that are devouring almost one-third of our budget and instead focus on developing megacities to make them efficient revenue generating engines. He said if we succeeded in developing our two megacities, Lahore and Karachi, Pakistan would need no any foreign loan in future.

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