Published Date: Apr 18, 2019
KP Govt urged to establish Social Protection Authority to fight poverty, regional inequality
Dr Hafiz A. Pasha, renowned economist and former federal finance minister said as a result of merger of former Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) with Khyber PakhtunKhwa acute poverty, inequality and regional disparities are the major challenges of the province. Therefore, the provincial government of Khyber PakhtunKhwa need to design a social protection program and establish a social protection authority to fight poverty and regional inequality.
Dr Hafiz A Pasha stated this during a “Pre-budget Consultation and Book Launch titled “Growth & Inequality in Pakistan”, jointly organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Office Pakistan, here on Wednesday at Peshawar. There is also need of specific allocations in the provincial development budgets for backward districts of South and North to overcome the challenge, he added.
Dr Hafiz A. Pasha said idle youth is a dangerous problem of Khyber PakhtunKhwa government and the provincial scheme such as Insaaf Rozgar Scheme should have central place for youth. Expectations were increased among youth in the last elections when political leadership promised to create jobs, he added. After 18th constitutional amendment and National Finance Commission (NFC) Award, the Khyber PakhtunKhwa government collected only 11 billion rupees in revenue through sales tax on the services, which was disappointing performance as compared to Sindh and Punjab, he lamented. The provincial government can raise their revenue collection up to 50 billion rupees annually through introducing sales tax on telecom sector, hotels and restaurants, builder and developers, vehicles repairs, banking insurances, transport through pipelines and withholding tax on professional services, he suggested. Rashakai Economic Zone of Khyber PakhtunKhwa has a great potential to gain maximum benefits from China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by focusing on improving integrated value chain in sectors such as Information Technology, marbel, electronics goods and value added textiles, he added.
Joint Executive Director SDPI, Dr Vaqar Ahmed said it is important that Khyber PakhtunKhwa government should utilize its large wealth in the informal sector and gradually provide confidence to the business community to come in to the formal sector. He said that trade with Afghanistan including transit trade stands to benefit the provincial economy. Medical tourism also presents an opportunity, he added. He stressed the need for structural reforms that can increase bilateral economic relations with Afghanistan which in turn will also increase welfare of the people of the province. Low-cost housing sector can benefit from the large labour force currently unemployed in the province, he remarked. On the ease of doing business reform, he explained that Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the province faced over 3 dozen taxes, levies and surcharges, which need to be rationalized. The energy costs have increased which also make the business financially unsustainable, he emphasized. For promotion of startups, the provincial government needs to increase incubation and accelerator programmes, he recommended.
Dr. Idrees Khan, Senior Chief, Planning & Development Department, Government of Khyber PakhtunKhwa said they are working on a medium term sustainable development strategy for the province, which will ensure implementation of sustainable development goals. He said there is a large potential in oil & gas exploration sector, however for this the provincial government needs financial support from the federal government and development partners. Our own plan is to contribute around 4000MW to the national grid by 2025 and for this large investment is being invited in the hydro power sector, he added.
Arshad Khan, Secretary Education, Khyber PakhtunKhwa Government said a medium term programme for uplift of elementary education is being formulated. He said there will be less focus on brick and mortar and a large focus on improving teacher quality and learning outcomes for students.
Abdul Qadir, Senior Advisor, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) said there is a need for comprehensive debate on budget formulation process in Pakistan, where economic discourse at the grass root level is still weak. He said our universities need to play a role in actively delivering new research to economic ministries and departments. In this regard, ‘Economy of Tomorrow’ programme invites proposals from all stakeholders which can then be communicated to the federal and provincial governments, he added.
Dr M. Rafique from The Institute of Management Sciences, Peshawar said Rashakai Special Economic Zone has a potential to attract USD 1 billion of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). He said to attract FDI there is a need to expedite the implementation of the provincial Industrial Policy.
The meeting was attended by Fazal Amin Shah from Khyber PakhtunKhwa Revenue Authority, Adnan Jalil, Board Member, Khyber PakhtunKhwa Economic Zones Management Company, Rohi Zahir, Ex-President Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Khyber PakhtunKhwa and government officials from departments of education, health, energy, finance, and planning and development.