Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday assured the nation that the government will not allow the sugar cartel to tamper with prices in future. “It is unfortunate that there is a sugar cartel in the country … the competition commission has disclosed the practice and the government has taken steps to ensure that the industry does not manipulate the prices in future,” the prime minister said while speaking at the launch of Naya Pakistan Certificates by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). He said the country’s wheat crops were affected by untimely rains due to climate change, while the shortage of sugar was mainly due to cartelization, a fact also clarified by the Competition Commission of Pakistan. He, however, assured that due to the measures taken by the government there would not be any shortage of wheat and sugar in the country. The prime minister acknowledged that prices of food commodities have increased but said that ‘all other indicators [of the economy] are positive’. He said that it is not just Pakistan that is suffering from food inflation; neighbouring India is also facing the same challenge. The reason behind the increase in food prices, he said, was that “supply chains had been affected due to coronavirus”. “On top of that, two of our wheat crops were affected due to climate change as it rained at the wrong time. [Therefore] our output was less than what we were expecting,” he said. The prime minister said with the country’s major economic indicators showing positive trends, there is a need to take special initiatives and offer incentives to attract investment from expatriates, who according to some estimates owned dollars equal to Pakistan’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), for a win-win situation. “We have to strive and look ways to attract the overseas Pakistanis, who are progressing well in every sector abroad and, I know and according to some estimates, own the amount of dollars equivalent to our GDP,” he said. The NPCs issued by the SBP for overseas and resident Pakistanis with declared assets abroad offer expected rates of 5.5 to 7 percent on dollar investment and 9.5 to 11 percent on rupee. Highlighting the country’s achievements on economic front, the prime minister said except the food inflation, which was also on the rise in India due to pressure on supply chain, the country’s major economic indicators were moving in positive direction. He mentioned that the government, which inherited US $ 20 billion of the current account deficit, has brought it to surplus – first time in 17 years, checked the fiscal deficit and brought in fiscal discipline during the last years. He explained that increase in the current account deficit and higher imports caused pressure on rupee and in turn brought price-hike in imported commodities like gas, edible oil, ghee and pulses. The prime minister said besides the major achievement of bringing the current account in surplus, the government had succeeded in realizing 24% increase in exports and enhanced receipt of the workers’ remittances. He expressed his pleasure that with the achievement of stability in primary balance – difference in revenue and expenditure, there was no raise in the country’s debt during the last four months. He mentioned that a well-performing stock market – best in Asia, booming construction industry, record sales of cement and other construction materials, boost in the textile industry, and higher sales of motorcycles and cars were reflective of the fact that the economy was on the right path. He appreciated the State Bank of Pakistan, the Finance Ministry and his economic team for their contribution in the economic boost. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan directed the authorities concerned to ease and accelerate the approval processes for investors and avoid unnecessarily delays. Chairing the weekly meeting of National Coordination Committee for Housing, Construction and Development, the prime minister said increase in the construction activities would also boost the economic activity. Information Minister Senator Shibli Faraz, Advisor to the PM Dr Ishrat Hussain, Special Assistant to the PM Shahbaz Gill, and federal and provincial secretaries attended the meeting, a PM Office press release said. The prime minister said the government was focused on facilitating the investors of all sectors. The meeting was told that a mechanism for early supply of power and gas to the construction projects had been devised. The Surveyor General of Pakistan briefed the prime minister about the cadastral mapping, which showed the boundaries and ownership of land. It was told that the mapping was going on in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Quetta, Nowshera and other districts to ascertain the real ownership of the land, besides helping to get rid of illegal occupation and encroachments.