Minister: (Pakistan pays high importance to its commitments on sustainable development and SDGs: Ahsan Iqbal)

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal has declared that Pakistan pays high importance to its commitments on sustainable development and SDGs.

He said the government conducted post-MDGs consultations with all stakeholders for coordinating and strengthening efforts at federal and provincial levels to achieve sustainable development and poverty reduction targets.

He said the consultation process indicated the need for national level categorization of SDGs, improved data collection and enforcement of monitoring mechanisms.

He expressed these views while speaking at the Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) Bangkok on Regional priorities for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific, says a press statement issued here on Sunday.

Ahsan Iqbal said, “Pakistan has accorded the highest priority to goals which will enable Pakistan to join the league of upper middle class countries by 2030. These include zero poverty and hunger, universal access to health services, education, modern energy services, clean water and sanitation. Pakistan is the first country to adopt SDGs 2030 agenda through a unanimous resolution of Parliament as Pakistan Development Goals.

“We believe that SDGs agenda of development isn’t an international agenda, it is our own agenda. It reflects our ambition and desire to give our people better quality of life. Therefore, we must take full ownership of SDGs with complete devotion and passion”, he added.

Talking about the measures Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform took for implementation of SDGs, Ahsan Iqbal said that ministry has been tasked to prepare a comprehensive national action plan, for policy formulating and implementing national SDGs.

He said the present government’s Vision 2025 provides a comprehensive national long term strategy for achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development. The seven pillars of Vision 2025 are fully aligned with SDGs.

He said the Vision 2025 will strengthen the data collection process and to increase the coverage of household data at the district level. This will enable to monitor the poverty and vulnerability of the population in all dimensions.

He said at the federal level, an SDGs Monitoring and Coordination Unit, in coordination with UNDP, is being established to serve as a national coordinating entity with similar units in provinces, he maintained.

He stated that, “ The Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) constitutes government’s poverty reduction planning that has prioritized 17 pro-poor sectors including environment, sanitation, health, education, population planning, and rural development. Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) is established as an apex Governmental Non Profit Organization for community-driven development in the country.

Ahsan Iqbal said that Prime Minister has announced an agricultural package of Rs 341 billion, which is aimed at uplifting of small and medium farmers through the provision of direct cash support, soft loans and introducing new technologies in agricultural sector.

Another revolutionary step for empowering and social uplift of youth, he added is the “Prime Minister’s Youth programme”. The programme includes Business Loan Scheme, Interest Free Loan Scheme, Skill Development Programme, and provision of free Laptop Scheme, with a budget outlay of Rs.20 billion.

He said institutional mechanism for empowerment of women has been expanded and strengthened. Laws have been promulgated at federal and provincial levels to curb violence against women and sexual harassment at work place.

For education, he said a National level campaign has been launched by the Prime Minister in partnership with the provinces to bring all out of school children into schools in order to achieve universal primary enrolment by 2018.