(23 May 2018)
President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President AKIA, Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Wednesday said the efforts of Army has revived the destroyed economy of Swat but a lot is to be done to improve the situation.
The area which was considered a heaven for the tourists received a severe blow due to terrorism which left the economy of Swat in tatters resulting in massive losses and unemployment, he said.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that federal and provincial government should take steps to put Swat back on the track on a war footing while the Swat chamber of commerce should also be taken on board to get desired results.
He said that around thirty eight percent of the economy of Swat depends on tourism, thirty one percent depends on agriculture while the orchard-rich valley provides some of the best fruits including variety of peaches and 18 different types of apples to the Country’s fruit markets.
Swat produces more than 71 thousand tons of fruits annually, but due to lacking in roads’ infrastructure and absence of dry port, almost 28 thousand tons of fruits destroys every year. By adding Swat motorway and Chakdara Expressway to the CPEC, the economy of Swat can be improved. Transportation delays in commuting the agri-products can also be avoided thus losses of fruits can be saved to a greater extent.
The support of the government can not only increase production of fruits but also help country earn good foreign exchange through exports which will also change lives of locals, he underlined.
The bees are kept in Swat commonly, and the honey is famous all over the country, the Swat River serves as a permanent fishery throughout the year and trout fish are reared in farms.
Swat’s mineral wealth is mainly in china clay, marble and emerald which are exported to international markets but this resource needs proper attention and exploitation, The Value addition is almost nil, whereas, gems cutting and polishing can be a great means of earning huge foreign exchange, he said.
He said that the deforestation has resulted from the use of wood as fuel, and wildlife has decreased with the loss of habitat which should be noticed by the policymakers. By importing silk from India, the local silk industry of Swat is at decline reducing employment opportunities in the area; Load shedding and reduced gas supply has adversely affect the trade and industry of Swat.
The developmental projects must be completed well in time so that Swat can be included in the mainstream again, thus resulting in elimination of poverty from the area, he demanded.