Development agenda set after full research: Ayesha

LAHORE: Stressing the significance of evidence-based policymaking, Punjab Finance Minister Dr Ayesha Ghous has said that the Punjab Economic Report (PER) 2017 would be helpful in devising strategic development goals.

She was addressing the launching ceremony of the PER 2017, hosted by the Punjab Economic Research Institute (PERI), Planning & Development Department, Government of the Punjab, at local hotel on Monday.

Minister for P&D Malik Nadeem Kamran, former federal finance minister and eminent economist Dr Hafeez A Pasha, Dr Ijaz Nabi, Country Director IGC, Provincial Minister for Mines & Minerals Sher Ali, Minister for Population Welfare Dr Mukhtar Berth, Minister for Women Development Zakya Shahnawaz, Capt ® Zahid Saeed, Chief Secretary Punjab, Chairman P&D Muhammad Jahanzeb Khan, Secretary P&D Iftikhar Ali Sahoo, Director PERI Dr Mumtaz Anwar, Country Director World Bank Patchamuthu Illangovan, all members P&D Board, parliamentarians, senior government officials, economists, academicians, journalists and representatives of the industry, agriculture, development organisations and partners also attended the ceremony.

Dr Pasha shed light on the importance of the province in improving the lives of people.

She explained how the province was making progress in achieving the targeted growth rate through improving the energy generation, fuel mix, and security situation of the province. She also highlighted that under the Growth Strategy Framework, 2 million youth would be provided with adequate education and skills to ensure their employability.

Provincial Minister for P&D Malik Nadeem Kamran, appreciating the efforts of PERI and P&D on the completion of PER, hoped that the report would assess the current economic situation, key performance indicators and the strength of the province and also assisted the government by identifying key areas where the province needs more attention.

Highlighting the Punjab government’s commitment to economic prosperity, he stressed that growth must be pro-poor; therefore, every effort is being made to optimally utilise the limited financial resources purely for the welfare of the underprivileged segment of society. For this purpose, the province is covering a range of projects including maternal health projects, projects of access to clean water, the availability of infrastructure and environmentally friendly transport facilities for the deprived segment of society.

The P&D minister concluded by assuring the audience that major development projects are under way with the role of P&D being pro-active through appropriate scrutinising and monitoring of the projects from beginning to the end.

Dr Hafiz A Pasha highlighted that Punjab was on track to achieving a growth rate of 6% by the end of the year which would be the highest growth rate in 11 years. He said that Punjab has shown a growth rate of 5% in major crops in 2016-17, which was the highest in the last ten years. He emphasised that Punjab needs to focus on providing employment to the youth of Punjab in order to take advantage of the youth bulge in Punjab. He also highlighted the need to develop secondary cities in Punjab as part of its urban development strategy in order to reduce the burden on existing cities.

Earlier, Chairman P&D Punjab Muhammad Jehanzeb Khan, welcoming cabinet ministers, experts, government representatives, business leaders, academicians & researchers to the launch of Punjab Economic Report (PER) 2017, said that the government has achieved the important task of holistically documenting the economy of Punjab.

He acknowledged the efforts of the Punjab Economic Research Institute (PERI) that worked closely with the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) in the preparation of the report. He said the province was focusing not just on accelerating economic growth but on achieving balanced, inclusive and sustainable economic growth which would improve the well-being of the citizens of Punjab. The 7th NFC award has shifted the fiscal balance in favour of the provinces and the 18th Amendment has given constitutional rights to the provinces to focus on human development in the provinces.

Dr Ijaz Nabi, country director IGC, thanked the chief minister for providing an opportunity in first preparing the PGS 2018 and then subsequently PER 2017 in order to understand whether the province is on track to achieving the targets it has set for itself in its vision document.

In addition to providing an assessment of the PGS 2018, the report also provides an assessment of the opportunities available to the province in terms of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He thanked Dr Mumtaz Anwar, Director PERI, for his unrelenting efoorts for preparation of the report.

The ceremony concluded with the unveiling of the report by the respected guests.