Govt targeting $4b bio-tech exports in 10 years: Fawad

LAHORE:Federal Minister for Science and Technology (S&T) Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said on Sunday that the government was focussing on bio-technology to ensure its contribution to GDP up to four per cent and increasing its exports to US$4 billion within next 10 years.

Addressing a news conference here at PCSIR Complex, he said that Pakistan could not overcome deficit through wheat, cotton and textile products alone. That was why, the government was focusing on innovative technologies in every field, he added.

The federal minister said that the process to shortlist astronauts for Pakistan’s first Space Mission-2022 would be initiated by February 2020, asserting that the country would send its first space mission in collaboration with China.

He said that this year, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government increased the S&T sector budget by 600 times. “As we have full support of Prime Minister Imran Khan, this budget will be enhanced by 1,000 times in the next financial year,” he added.

Fawad said that after 1970s, Pakistan succeeded in entering the world arena of science and technology again, citing that the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) also recognised that Pakistan had staged its comeback in the field of science and technology.

He said that the government had also made efforts to change the energy scene, adding that Pakistan’s entire engineering sector suffered a lot as the country could not manufacture a combustion engine over the last 30 years. But today, the government was focused on revamping the system by setting up targets, he added.

With active support of Prime Minister Imran Khan and Minister for Climate Change Amin Aslam, he said Pakistan would be able to manufacture solar panels within next one-and-a-half years, and “we would also be manufacturing lithium batteries”. He said that future was of lithium batteries and the world had now switched over to powerful lithium batteries, adding that Pakistan should also have followed the suit because new innovative technologies would change the entire power distribution system within next 10 to 15 years.

He claimed that Pakistan would become the first country in South Asia manufacturing solar panels and lithium batteries which would be the basis of our advancement in the field of science and technology. Pakistan would again be the first in South Asia introducing battery-operated buses, as two Chinese companies in Pakistan were at final stage to manufacture such buses, which would also be operated in Lahore and other major cities. They would help overcome problems of smog and air pollution. Similarly, locally manufactured battery-operated motorbikes and rickshaws would soon take over the market, he disclosed.

Chaudhry Fawad said that the PTI government was also working to ensure local manufacturing of various vaccines including rabies, while an international level Herbal Medicine Park was also being developed in Jhelum.

Responding to reporters queries, he stressed the need for new deal/SOPs among the institutions to ensure balance of power. He suggested that a joint committee of both the houses, National Assembly and the Senate, should be constituted while Prime Minister, Chief Justice of Pakistan and Chief of Army Staff should patronise the committee to take the country forward.

He said that the role of opposition should be acknowledged; asserting that all should evolve a consensus on amendments to the Army Act and formulation of economic policies.

Ch Fawad said that Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif had given serious names for new Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and the PTI would also bring forth credible names as well. An independent election commission was the slogan of PTI, and an honourable individual would be appointed as the CEC.

He said that student unions had great history and a role in formation of Pakistan; therefore, the genuine student unions should be revived. He explained that student unions should not be mouthpiece of mainstream political parties or a source of blackmailing.

Chaudhry Fawad said that the government and the opposition were agree on amending the NAB laws, but it needed debate that which articles/sections should be amended.