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The News

Published Date: Dec 13, 2014

South Asia entering new era of development, prosperity: Dastgir


Minister for Commerce and Industry Khurram Dastgir Khan has said that a
democratic South Asia is entering a new era of development and
prosperity which is a welcome sign for regional cooperation.

Dastgir was speaking at the concluding plenary of 17th Sustainable
Development Conference organised by Sustainable Development Policy
Institute here.

The minister said regional level
agreement on energy trade and signing of Pakistan, Afghanistan and
Kirghizstan agreement on electricity supply will connect the region with
a grid leading to further development across the region. He said that
after normalising the trade regime with India, now we shifted from
positive list to negative list which also included improving
infrastructure at Wahga, Torkhum and Chaman borders. He said the
government is also aiming for more openings with India and this will
connect Pakistan with the region.

Former Finance Minister
Dr Hafiz Pasha said that in the current scenario Pakistan has no option
but to follow the path of inclusive growth and sustainable development.
“Food inflation and the rising prices of flour need immediate attention
of the government,” he said. He added that unemployment in the country
actually reached to 12%, and three million people are entering the
poverty bracket every year. He lamented that the real household income
of top 20% went up by 40%, whereas the income of the people belonging to
lowest 20% have only risen by 6%.

He said that top 1%
land holders have 20% of this countries land and currently 86% of the
credit goes to 1% of the big borrowers. He said that number of those
filing tax returns dropped from one million to 0.7 m in a few years and
the total amount of tax exemptions stands at Rs900 billion. He lamented
that this year, only 30% of the budget was allocated for water and
energy whereas the budget for highways is even doubled. We can live
without highways, but we cannot make progress without electricity, he

Dr Rashed Al Mahmud Titmur of University of Dhaka
said that non-engagement and non-alliance at regional level couldn’t
prove to be beneficial for all the countries and now it’s time to move
towards regional cooperation. He added that 50% labour is underutilised
in South Asia. “Policies like liberalisation and privatisation also
failed in the region, therefore, all the countries really need to
revisit them.

Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, SDPI Executive
Director, said that as we graduated from MDGs to SDGs, independent
researchers and academia must rise up to the challenge and provide
evidence based policy advice to national, regional and global governance
forums. The move towards SDGs should envision a more responsible role
of a democratic state, he added. “However, this pursuit is not possible
without an active support from the communities.” He stressed the need
for local government reforms to pave way for social accountability
mechanisms, which can be exercised by the communities for demanding
improved public service delivery.

On the occasion, SDPI
launched the Pakistan Data Portal (a joint project with Alif Ailaan)
which is an online tool for the sharing and dissemination of all data on
education in Pakistan.

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