China bank has rolled over $600m loan: PM

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that the Exim (Export-Import) Bank of the all-weather friendly country, China, has rolled over another $600 million for Pakistan, which helped to further increase the country’s foreign exchange reserves.

“Our forex reserves are going up but I wish that these reserves should increase on the back of our own resources rather than the foreign debts,” he said while addressing the soft launch ceremony of the first-ever sports university here on Tuesday.

Shehbaz launched the Rs5 billion PM Special Initiative for Development of Sports. The sports university will be established in the vicinity of Pakistan Sports Complex in Islamabad with an initial amount of Rs1 billion. Establishment of Sports Endowment Fund has also been launched with seed money of Rs1 billion. The Rs5 billion package will be spent on four other development projects including an improvement of the recognised Olympic sports federations (Rs1,100 million).

“Pakistan’s highly talented athletes deserve appreciation from the nation as despite having limited sources, they have promoted the soft image of the country throughout the world. The Rs5 billion package will help these sportsmen and women in their training and for their required exposure abroad,” the premier told the audience.

He said that out of the Rs5 billion, a direct investment of Rs2.5 billion would be made to cater to needs of players’ training and travelling. “My government deeply cares about Pakistan sportsmen who are the real ambassadors of the country. This direct funding would help meet their expenses during training and travelling.

“I hope and pray that the next government, which comes into power after the election, will make further investments. This is not all. I hope that following the general election, the government will further increase the amount in an effort to provide the best platform for the youth to develop their skills.”

The Prime Minister’s Initiative for Promotion and Development of Sports also includes Rs400 million for the Elite Sports Person Development plan where a few highly talented performers will be supported to get training abroad.

Another Rs330 million has been earmarked for the stakeholders’ scholarship programme from which coaches and trainers will also benefit.

For the first time, an amount of Rs400 million has also been set aside to hold sports education programmes, including seminars and conferences, highlighting the urgency of development of sports in the country.

An amount of Rs250 million has been earmarked for traditional sports and e-sports.

“The youth require further opportunities to sharpen their skills. We have athletes like Arshad Nadeem and Nooh Butt who excelled at international stage even having no early support. There are so many talented sportsmen who require financial support at the right age,” Shehbaz said.

The Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC), Ehsan ur Rehman Mazari, said the government made structural changes in the country’s sports to meet the emerging needs of games.

“Under the leadership of the prime minister, the IPC Ministry has taken all the positive steps aimed at broadening the financial and structural base for sportsmen and women. No other government has worked so deeply to solve athletes’ problems.” He said during the previous government’s four years, sports were totally ignored.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Shaza Fatima Khawaja said that one of the major decisions taken by the government was to revive the departmental sports. “Over 40,000 sportspersons who lost their jobs because of the ban on departmental sports will now get a fresh lease of life,” she said.