ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal said on Tuesday that the government has adopted inclusive and sustainable economic policies to minimise socio-economic inequalities.
He noted that inclusive growth strategy implies egalitarian distribution of income and resources. As a developing country, Pakistan faces two challenges.
On one hand, economy needs to grow rapidly and on the other hand, historically marginalised segments of society must be incorporated into processes of development.
In order to effectively conceptualise and materialise this, government needs input from economists, gender experts, development specialists, think tanks and other civil society organizations.
The purpose of the round table was to not only initiate a dialogue between relevant stakeholders but also to design effective policies to address issues pertaining to inequality in Pakistan.
These views were expressed by Ahsan Iqbal while addressing the ministry’s seminar on ‘Bringing Inequality to the Public Agenda’ in collaboration with UNDP. It was attended by government officials, development experts, members of academia and civil society.
Moreover, the minister said that income inequality is only one aspect of inequality in Pakistan. Disparities in terms of gender, region and digital divide are also needed to be addressed in order to ensure sustainable development.
He elucidated that the launch of Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) would help the government to grasp the magnitude and intensity of inequities in the country.
Ahsan Iqbal viewed the current knowledge age’s drivers of inequality were education, innovation and IT as countries with ‘edge’ of knowledge are the leading the world.
He highlighted the major initiatives taken by government to encounter inequality in education sector which include launch of National Curriculum Reforms, Examination System Reforms, Transformational Teacher Training Programme, Science Talent Farming Scheme, Punjab Endowment Funds and provision of computers and labs to 2,500 high schools in Punjab.
Moreover, he said that previously Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were regarded as some conventions that are ‘imposed’ on Pakistan by UN – so the nation never fully adopted them.
“But this government has internalised Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as National Goals and this is a major policy shift,” he said.
The minister said the government devised ‘Vision 2025’ – in which all relevant stakeholders were taken on board – so Pakistan could emerge as one of the top 25 economies in the World by 2025.
He said that the publication of MPI was the first step as the government was in the process of designing and implementing policies to address the social and regional inequalities.
Ahsan Iqbal ended his talk with a sense of optimism that Pakistan will become a more equitable and prosperous country by 2025. He urged all stakeholders to collaborate with each other and he suggested that they should meet on quarterly basis to review recommendations and processes of implementation.