Appropriate attention towards social sector is the
best way to achieve the objective
From SHAMIM AHMED
Dec 10 - 16, 2001
Perhaps for the first time in the history of Pakistan
public sector development programme (PSDP) has been raised to Rs. 140
billion for the current financial year. In the budget Rs.127 billion has
been earmarked which has now been raised to Rs.140 by adding Rs.13
billion from the 600 million dollar (about Rs. 40 billion) cash
assistance from the United States.
The presentation given to President in detail says
that Khushaal Pakistan programme received Rs.8 billion (from Rs.7
billion to Rs.15 billion), education sector Rs.2 billion (from Rs.2.5
billion to Rs.4.5 billion). This would go for rehabilitation of the
No allocation was made to women Development Ministry
which now has been given Rs. one billion for the school feeding for
girls in primary schools. Health sector was given Rs.2.5 billion and now
its share has been raised to Rs.4.5 billion, adding Rs. 2 billion for
primary health and family planning and immunisation.
Proposed new additional allocation of Rs.8 billion
would create 800,000 new jobs and increase local government additional
capital expenditure by 60 per cent, 100 per cent or more than doubling
of local government budget for capital expenditure.
In the acceleration of education sector restructuring
programme the rehabilitation of the existing primary/elementary schools
is now of 1,780 schools (1,500 additional) which was only for 280
schools in Annual Development Plan. Teachers training resource centres
were 100 in ADP and now they are 700 (600 new).
By the nutrition package the outcome would be 18 per
cent greater weight gain 10 per cent height gain, 100 per cent increase
in existing enrollment, decrease in dropout rate by 30 per cent,
reduction of gender gap in school enrollment, school nutrition package
would cover 5,000 primary girls schools to access 500,000 girls. In each
district the target would be 250 girls school by providing one meal for
25 days per month for 10 months/year (Rs6.65 per meal).
Ministry for Women Development, Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal
and Aga Khan University would implement this school nutrition programme
in collaboration with four provincial governments, district Nazims and
5,000 community organisers to be trained by AKU.
There are also outcomes set against each allocation.
Existing plus new schemes for safe water supply would have to reduce
incidence of waterborne diseases. Existing plus new water conservation
schemes including new check dams, small channels (including realignment)
and local water shortage would bring more water for irrigation and water
conservation resulting in higher yields per unit of water.
The focus on sites and services for low-cost housing
schemes slum upgradation-rehabilitation is to target poverty
alleviation. The size of the schemes have been increased from Rs.10
million for the rural areas and Rs. 20 million for urban areas.
The Government has revised allocation for social
sector projects, including human development poverty reduction and job
creation, by about Rs.15 billion to step up socio-economic development
in the country.
Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz told newsmen that
Pakistan has received total grants in aid commitments of 1.2 billion
dollars, out of which six hundred million dollars have been received in
cash. The funds will be utilised for improvement of infrastructure,
housing, sanitation, water supply, schools, health facilities and
community driven programme.
The financial constraints have seriously affected
health, education, environment, housing, sanitation, infrastructure
etc., over the decades, jeopardizing the nation's overall image. The
lack of employment opportunities had undermined the country's peace and
stability, as the educated youth had started falling prey to the
extremist elements for subversive and violent activities. Due attention
was not given to the basic sectors of national activity which had put
the country's future at stake.
It's, however, good that the present government has
allocated additional funds to the social sector programme. The fact that
the funds have been diverted towards social sector without any loss of
time is indicative of the present government's right priorities and
commitment to address issues of poverty, unemployment, want and hunger.
It is ironic that the nation could not benefit from the foreign debt
worth over 25 billion dollars in the twelve years of PML and PPP rule in
the country. And the tragedy is that there is nothing tangible on the
ground proportionate to the foreign debt that BB and Nawaz Sharif
secured from various international monetary institutions and the
friendly countries. It is hoped that more and more funds will be
allocated to the social sector, since it was comprehensively ignored in
the past. Pakistan has to cover the long way to catch up with the
contemporary nations. Appropriate attention towards social sector is the
best way to achieve the objective. The nation cannot afford lethargy on
this count and has to work hard to bring its infrastructure in health,
education, job opportunities, at par with other countries to achieve
quick progress and prosperity.