ECONOMY WATCH

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Selected by Zeeshan Ahmed Khan

Sep 19 - 25, 2005
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MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS (Final Part)

PAKISTAN AND MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS

Luckily, Pakistan is one of those countries who are consistent with achieving MDGs. The government, United Nation bodies and NGOs are playing vital role in achieving this status. In last few years, the government has substantially increased the size of public sector development expenditures.

ROLE OF GOVERNMENT:

The government efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve 8 Millennium Development Goals must be acknowledged. This year, the government is spending Rs.4.42bn on Khushhal Pakistan Programme-1, Rs7.5 billion on Khushhal Pakistan Programme-II, Rs5 billion on Kushhal Pakistan Fund and Rs878 million for less developed areas. Realizing the fact that Pakistan is an agricultural country, the government has granted a subsidy of Rs.3.8bn to the farmers in various forms. The economic survey reveals that farming communityís income has risen by Rs.147bn last year. To keep supporting farming community Rs.100bn loans shall be provided to farming sector. Realizing the alarming level of inflation, the government has set minimum wage limit to Rs.3000 and lowest pension limit to Rs.1000 with the revision of government employees pay scale. However, this increase is not sufficient and the government has to re-consider its decisions in order to achieve MDGs. The first Millennium Development Goal of eradicating poverty is the most important one and the government has announced that its poverty alleviation allocation will go up to Rs.324bn from Rs.278bn.

ROLE OF UN BODIES:

Among countries classifications, Pakistan has been officially listed among low income countries in Global Development Finance report. The implication of this status made Pakistan eligible for United Nations special grants and aid. And for this reason, different UN bodies are running social sector development programs in the country. Currently following programs are running with the assistance of United Nations:

-Poverty Alleviation Facility (PAF)
-National Capacity Building Project for Programme Development and Implementation, (NATCAP) Project
-National Urban Poverty Alleviation Program (NUPAP)
-Area Development Program Baluchistan
-Pakistan Community Development Project for Rehabilitation of Saline and Waterlogged Land
-Lachi Poverty Reduction Project (LPRP)
-Support to Achieving the Millennium Development Goals
-Other small projects.

These programs/projects are contributing well enough towards the achievement of MDGs. The biggest benefit of these projects is that they are continuously monitoring social statistics of Pakistan which help in planning and identifying the size of efforts as well as locating areas where efforts are required.

ROLE OF NGOS:

It is widely accepted that the government alone can do nothing. Some private institutions are always required to assist government in managing tasks. Pakistan is one of those countries where a widespread network of NGOs is working and is very active too. Today 462 NGOs are working to eliminate poverty, 553 NGOs are working for development, 767 for education, 442 for environment, 657 for health and 453 for rural development. (Source of data: net-ngo.com. Most among these NGOs are working simultaneously on more than one task.)

PAKISTAN ON WAY TO ACHIEVE MDGS:

With per capita income raised to $736, life expectancy rate at 63, infant mortality rate at 76, increased ratio of working women and maternal health, a comprehensive government-led program to fight against diseases, increased environmental concerns and better global development interaction has placed Pakistan well ahead among developing countries. Pakistan is likely to achieve few goals by 2015, although the recent global recession impact due to increasing oil prices and inflation has decelerated the momentum of growth. The government still needs to increase its efforts to keep Pakistan on track.

TREND IN SOUTH ASIA:

Global monitoring report claims that South Asian countries are performing well and are likely to achieve all MDGs by 2015 except Afghanistan, Pakistan and few states of India. I have a little conflict with this report for keeping Pakistan and Afghanistan in the same category. My personal point of view suggests that Pakistan will achieve all targets except "eradicating extreme hunger" and "environmental concerns". The recent pace of growth of economy supports my claim. The global monitoring report has placed Bangladesh on top of all South Asian countries. The development of SME and NGOs support has placed Bangladesh on this position. The report says that Bangladesh is truly appreciable because it had coped with lots of hurdles and calamities and gained this development level.