Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that his province’s economy has remained under stress, which could be assessed from the fact that the poverty ratio has been recorded at 43 per cent with 75.5 per cent in rural areas. “My government’s strategy is to grow the economy from six to seven per cent so that over 600,000 jobs could be created every year to reduce the poverty, but the strategy has been affected by floods 0f 2010, 2011, COVID-19, and floods of 2022.” This he said while addressing the 49th Specialized Training Programme, 25th Initial Command Course 35 ASPs, including nine females here at CM House. The meeting was attended by Chief Secretary Sohail Rajput, Commandant National Police Academy AD Khwaja, IG Police Ghulam Nabi Memon, Chairman P&D Hassan Naqvi, Home Secretary Saeed Mangnijo, and PSCM Fayaz Jatoi. Mr Shah said that Sindh was the country’s most urbanized province with Karachi; its capital city being the country’s major financial and trade Hub. He said that Sindh’s economy has remained under stress as with the national economic situation. According to the CM, the overall poverty levels in Sindh are high, estimated at around 43 per cent with 75.5 per cent in rural areas. “Sindh requires six to seven per cent annual growth to be able to create over 600,000 jobs in the private sector so that poverty could be reduced,” he said and added Public Expenditure and Productive Investments were expected to be the major drivers for growth in the province and the country. Murad Ali Shah said that recent floods have wreaked havoc in all sectors of the province. “We faced floods in 2010, then in 2011, COVID-19, and now floods in 2022,” he said and added that his government, despite natural calamities and other issues, has prioritized the development portfolio such as improving outcome-based human development, social protection and poverty reduction, urban development with a focus on Karachi and other urban centres, launching water and sanitation schemes, improving connectivity and adopting integrated agriculture and water approach. Talking about governance effectiveness, the chief minister said his government has undertaken significant reforms to improve the overall ease of doing business environment in the province as its Ease of Doing Business Rankings improved from 128 to 108 (2019 to 2020). He said that a dedicated ‘Doing Business Reforms Unit’ has been housed in the Investment Department to steer the business-friendly regulatory reforms along with a Sindh Enterprise Development Fund to mobilize resources for Small & Medium Enterprises. Mr Shah said that the Sindh government has been working to create dedicated special economic zones as models to foster investment and industrial growth through ‘The Special Economic Zones Management Company (SEZMC)’. He said that his government was working with the World Bank on the ‘Pakistan Regulatory Modernization Initiative’ to simplify regulations for businesses in the province. The CM said that the COVID-19 Pandemic significantly impacted the entire globe with many still trying to recover from its economic and public health impact. “Pakistan was touted as countries with one of the best responses to the pandemic with timely measures spanning across lockdowns, social protection, and proactive public health communications,” he said and added that his government took several initiatives such as creating a dedicated fund, repurposing development portfolio, and public health communication which demonstrated how effective governance could yield desirable results and outcomes. Since the advent of unexpectedly high ‘torrential’ rains, the government of Sindh started mobilizing limited resources to undertake immediate rescue and relief operations, Murad Ali Shah said and added that the recent floods prompted the creation of ‘National Flood Response Coordination Center at the Federal Level to coordinate and steer the national and international efforts for relief, rescue, and rehabilitation. The CM said that the federal, provincial, and local governments were working in unison as we move from rescue and relief towards rehabilitation for the flood affectees “As with the COVID-19 response, the Floods also require a ‘Whole-of-Government’ approach with all hands on deck,” he said. Talking about Public Private Partnerships, the chief minister said that his government has undertaken significant reforms to leverage ‘public-private partnerships across the infrastructure, production, and social sectors to improve service delivery. Mr Shah said that the Sindh government has introduced several reforms to improve its tax collection, particularly the devolved ‘Sales Tax on Services’ through Sindh Revenue Board. He said that the quantum of STS has increased manifold after the devolution from Rs16 billion in 2010 to Rs155 billion in 2021. “Sindh has the potential to become a high-growth and high-income region, but the governance issues have to be effectively tackled to translate this potential into commensurate economic and social development,” he concluded.