Mounds of socio-economic challenges exist; but surmountable: PM-elect Shehbaz

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ISLAMABAD, Mar 3 (APP):Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, the newly-elected prime minister, on Sunday spelled out a number of initiatives to net the runaway inflation, high cost of living, price hike, circular debt in the energy sector and foreign debts, and expressed the optimism that though the mounds of challenges existed, but were not insurmountable.

In his maiden speech in the National Assembly, the prime minister-elect also offered an olive branch to the protesting opposition members with a ‘charter of reconciliation’, besides reiterating his insistence on pursuing a ‘charter of economy’.

Shehbaz Sharif was, earlier, elected as the  prime minister for the second time in a 201-vote count by the newly formed National Assembly about three weeks after the conclusion of general elections, leading to formation of a coalition government.

He said that after the general elections, they had two options ahead of them; either to protect their politics or to save the country, but the allied parties’ leadership preferred interests of the country and resolved to play their role for the bright future of the countrymen.

Shehbaz said that Pakistan was blessed with immense natural resources and talented young people who could steer it out of the difficulties.

All the segments of society and political leadership should play their part in those endeavours, he stressed.

He said the economic and social challenges were myriad but at the same time, there was an opportunity, if they decided collectively to face them.

The PM-elect said that as per estimates, the budget revenues stood at Rs12,300 billion and after the NFC (national finance Commission) Award distribution, the Federal Government was left with only Rs 7,300 billion, out of which Rs 8,000 billion had been paid in interest and services charges, showing a deficit of Rs 700 billion.

He wondered that from where they would have to get resources for the development, education, health, salaries of the Federal Government employees and the armed forces!

He termed it an unending chain of seeking loans after loans and ‘a grave situation’ for about 250 million people of the country.

Referring to the protest of the opposition members, he regretted that there should be ‘a reign of realization rather than making noises in the House’, adding the history would decide over such tactics.

The newly elected prime minister further said that the country had sought about Rs 80,000 billion external, internal and private debts in the past.

The issues at hand required a deep surgery and introduction of reforms in the system and various sectors, he said, expressing the confidence that his senior party leadership along with allied parties would get rid of the crippling loans trap.