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Pakistan committed to achieving sustainable development goals: Iqbal

Pakistan committed to achieving sustainable development goals: Iqbal

ISLAMABAD: Federal Mini-ster for Planning, Develop-ment and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal said on Sunday that Pakistan attached great importance to its commitments on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Pakistan has accorded the highest priority to achieving the goals which will enable us to join the league of upper middle class countries by 2030,” Mr Iqbal said while speaking at the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) in Bangkok, said a press release issued here.

The forum is being held to discuss priorities for implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Asia and Pacific region.

Mr Iqbal said the goals included zero poverty and hunger, universal access to health services, education facilities, modern energy services, clean water and sanitation.

The minister said that Pakistan was the first country to adopt SDGs 2030 agenda through a unanimous resolution of parliament.

“We believe that SDGs agenda for 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 ownership of SDGs with complete devotion and passion,” he said.

Mr Iqbal said the government had conducted discussions on post-Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with all stakeholders for coordinating and strengthening efforts at federal and provincial levels to achieve sustainable development and poverty reduction targets.

The consultation process underlined the need for national categorisation of SDGs, improved data collection and enforcement of monitoring mechanisms, he said.

Talking about measures being taken by the government for achieving SDGs, Mr Iqbal said the ministry concerned had been tasked with preparing a comprehensive national action plan for achieving the national SDGs.

The minister said that the Vision-2025 provided a comprehensive long-term strategy for achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development.

The seven pillars of Vision-2025, he said, were fully aligned with the SDGs, adding that the policy would strengthen the data collection process and increase the coverage of household data at the district level.

This will enable the government to monitor the poverty and vulnerability of the population in all dimensions.

He said that at the federal level, a SDGs Monitoring and Coordination Unit, in coordination with UNDP, was being set up to serve as a national coordinating entity with similar units in the provinces.

Mr Iqbal said the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) constituted the government’s poverty reduction planning which had prioritised 17 pro-poor sectors, including environment, sanitation, health, education, population planning and rural development.

Giving details, he said, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) had been set up as an apex governmental non-profit organisation for community-driven development.

He said the prime minister had announced an agriculture package of Rs341 billion, which was aimed at helping small and medium farmers through provision of direct cash support, soft loans and introducing new technologies in the sector.

Another revolutionary step for empowering youths was the Prime Minister’s Youth programme, he said. The programme included schemes such as business loan scheme, interest-free loan scheme, skill development programme and free laptop scheme, with a budget outlay of Rs20bn.

The minister said that institutional mechanism for empowering women had been expanded and strengthened, adding that laws had been promulgated at federal and provincial levels to stop violence against women and sexual harassment of women at workplaces.

For education, he said, a national campaign had been launched by the prime minister in partnership with the provinces to enrol all out of school children into schools to achieve universal primary enrolment by 2018.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2016

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