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The News International

Published Date: Dec 4, 2019

Conference on sustainable development in digital age

Federal Minister for Planning, Development, Reforms and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has said that businesses in Pakistan is controlled and influenced by large business houses having more access to policies decisions and capital markets.
Mr Umar was addressing the first plenary session of 3-day 22nd Sustainable Development Conference on ‘Sustainable Development in a digital age’ organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute here Tuesday.
The Planning Minister said that those with best ideas and willing to work hard are not necessarily the one’s to become winners. However, the advent of the digitalisation had the potential to break this barrier where the startups are now emerging and taking over the markets. He said that revenue generation and documentation of the economy was a massive challenge for the government and only digitalisation of the economy can help solve the issue.
Asad Umar said that digitisation is an opportunity for us to solve our core problems. He said that the government was now looking at ensuring efficient public service delivery through the use of the technology. Moreover, transparency and accountability can be ensured through the use of technologies where the educated youth can hold the government accountable, he added.
Mr Asad said that a digital divide emerged in the world as well as in Pakistan and to bridge this, we need a whole of government approach to adapt to this digital change. He stressed the need for government practices at all levels.
MNA Ayesha Ghaus said that when sought, NADRA data for Punjab revealed that the people getting Zakat and Bait-ul-Maal funds hold foreign currency accounts, visit abroad, while many are holding government jobs. She said that 95 per cent should not be recipient of this charity. She said that if it is social protection, digitising is a two-way sword to ensure transparency.
Dr Abid Qaiyoum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, called upon government to fast track its decision-making, productivity, and institutionalise its mechanisms for devising a policy framework to embark upon digital revolution. He stressed upon the government to bridge the digital divide through budgetary allocations and financial inclusion for the remote and digitally deprived areas to promote the digital technologies. He said that the government also needs to train its civil servants on new skills and technologies and build the capacity of the state institutions.
MNA Riaz Fityana referring to a UNDP report said that Pakistan will be in crisis situation in 2025. He said that through Indus Basin Treaty, Pakistan surrendered three of its rivers to India and that India was making dams on the remaining three rivers.
He advised drip irrigation and using sprinklers for irrigation. He asked for installing water metres at household level. He said that effluent from 350 factories is flowing into Ravi without treatment resulting in death of fish also.
Simi Kamal from Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund said that we can save $2 billion by conserving water. She said that charges from water in developed countries are more than costs of providing water. She opposed use of carcinogenic plastic bottles for packaging water. She also emphasised need for thick data for better policies and suggested engaging universities for the purpose.
Nadeem Ahmad from WaterAid said that we should ensure potable water through pipelines. He said that people can pay Rs15,000 to tanker water supply but are not ready to pay Rs5,000 a month to CDA. He observed that dams damage ecology as well as water quality.