ISLAMABAD: All the mainstream political parties agreed on Thursday to carve out a ‘charter of economy’ as part of larger economic agenda for the welfare of the people of Pakistan. The consensus was developed at a session on ‘Charter of Economy: Moving Towards a Consensus on Socio-economic Agenda’ on the concluding day of the 20th Sustainable Development Conference organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute. ANP’s former senator Afrasiab Khattak said that the poverty rate in FATA was 73% and if charter of economy was realised, equal focus could be given to all the districts. PPP’s MNA Nafeesa Shah said that the state of privatisation in the charter of economy needs to be monitored and it should be checked if privatization was a success story or not. PPP’s Syed Naveed Qamar said that the current trade deficit was increasing and the foreign exchange policy needed to be revised. Privatization is more of a political than an economic decision so it is recommended that privatisation should be done in the first year of elections, he said. Haroon Sharif from the World Bank proposed to merge ministries and suggested as to how decisions should be made in a volatile country like Pakistan. PTI’s Senator Shibli Faraz said that the privatization model needs to be revised. Pakistan has only 5% of its trade with the region and more focus on flow of foreign exchange is imperative for the democratic government, he said. MNA Rana Afzal said that Pakistan was providing the cheapest petroleum products in the region and that two energy plants have been installed to improve the energy crisis. Senator Noman Wazir said that state-owned enterprises can only work if there was zero political involvement at the micro level. Advisor to PM on Finance Miftah Ismail said that the allegations against privatization were not fair as only 49% company ownership could be privatized. Better privatization models should be adopted so that more profits are generated, he added. Dr Abid Q Suleri, Executive Director SDPI, said that the dialogue would continue in future so that political leadership may reach on consensus on other important aspects of the national economy as well. Speaking at another session on ‘Climate Change Driven Migration and Regional/Global Security’, MNA Uzair Khan said climate change was a reality and “we need to aggressively pursue climate change diplomacy to ensure that we do not suffer the consequences of food insecurity, job loss and internal migration.” Former information minister Nisar Memon said that migration could be either permanent or temporary and that it could be induced by several circumstances. Owing to sea erosion, most of migration takes place at the coastline, he said, adding that India should be asked to reduce conflict in the Siachen region. Dr Waseem Ishaque from the National Defense University said Pakistan was located atop two tectonic plates and that’s why it was more likely to suffer from violent earthquakes. Environmental expert Dr Pervaiz Amir said that glaciers were melting fast making the water dirty and that no one wanted to go back to the areas from where they migrated. Dr Iqrar Ahmed from the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, said that unpredictable events were occurring due to climate changes, such as floods, so there was an opportunity for research. One of the drawbacks of climate change is migration which influences human development every year, he added. Irfan Tariq from Ministry of Climate Change said provincial and regional strategies needed to be devised to overcome the issue of climate change driven migration. At a session on ‘Citizen-Centric Health Initiative’, Rana Afzal, parliamentary secretary for Finance, said professionals need to lead in the policy making for budgetary allocations. “There should be less BHUs but must be well-equipped. Healthcare education is integral. Bureaucrats should sensitize the parliamentarians so that the budget allocation can be achieved authentically,” he said. MPA Mehmood Jan said in KP budget allocation has increased from Rs 18 billion in 2013 to Rs 67 billion in 2016-17. Published in Daily Times, December 8th 2017.