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Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Dr. Mohammad Jahanzeb Khan addressed in the 77th session of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) 2021 here in Islamabad on Tuesday.
While highlighting the importance of the forum Dr. Jahanzeb said that the UNESCAP is collectively planning and considering the limited fiscal space in the most populous and the least developed region in the world, also touted as the least integrated of the world’s regions. Lagging the world in intraregional trade, is hurting our own economic growth too. COVID19 is breaking us individually, but is also bringing us, the collective whole, together.
He said that Last year in the wake of the pandemic the Government of Pakistan adopted the three-pronged policy of saving lives, saving livelihoods, and salvaging economies. While facing a tax revenue loss upwards of Rs. 900 billion, Pakistan disbursed Rs. 1.2 trillion in stimulus package for industries, and Rs. 350 billion as relief to informal work sector and poor families. Through dedicated Rs 187 billion for Ehsaas emergency cash, our national flagship initiative expanded social protection coverage for the most vulnerable 12 million families. Recognizing the need for sustainable stimulus packages to fill preparedness gaps, we allocated Rs. 70 billion to COVID19 related response, based on a rapid health facility assessment across the 130 plus districts of the country.
He stated that the Pakistan reached out to subject experts, research, academia and the development partners, for available regional and global knowledge and for evidence-backed reform interventions. However, we need more awareness about the other regional practices to counter the socioeconomic fallout of the pandemic etc. Were there additional learnings that could have enhanced the efficacy and effectiveness of our strategies.
While emphasizing on future goals he said that we must put the region back on track to achieve SDGs. We have more in common than what keeps us apart: our informal economies, social protection needs of our people, our growing youth bulge and ageing population, and our resource limitations.
He said that we have to show regional solidarity for saving 400 million poor living in the region, we have to come together to set up a regional vaccine buying pool, with effective distribution and supply chain, and share health workforce training resources. we have to promote private sector participation, expand on our mutual large renewable energy potential, pursue the possibility of an integrated regional power grid, revitalize partnerships to catalyze larger infrastructure projects.