COVID-19 opened new vistas of development: Alvi
ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi has said the COVID-19 pandemic is a big challenge that opened up new vistas of opportunities before the world to tackle the issues of sustainable development.
He was addressing the 23rd Sustainable Development Conference on “Sustainable Development in the Times of COVID-19” organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute here on Wednesday. The president said the pandemic affected the societies, particularly the poor, across the world, which hindered progress of nations. He urged the world to uplift the poor by providing them with better healthcare, quality education and all basic necessities of life.
He said Pakistan performed tremendous work in tackling the disease by providing help to almost half of the people by the Ehsaas programme. He claimed that the Ehsaas cash transfer programme worked wonders to protect the poor, and was acknowledged by every government in the world. He said poverty alleviation and development are linked to education. As far as health efforts are concerned, prevention is the key to safety for the countries like Pakistan which cannot afford curative approach and “I believe that we have established structures of communication by which we can reach out to people at the grassroots level through different modes”, Dr Alvi said.
He said amidst COVID -19, Pakistan managed its economy at the macroeconomic front where the balance of payment got better, imports got reduced and exports went up. At the same time, the prime minister announced a construction package which will help enhance employment opportunities. COVID-19 triggered digital transformation in a year, which otherwise might have taken a decade, he said, adding that societies which make progress in the world are those which are inclusive and ensure that education and healthcare facilities are accessible to the entire population. “We need to ensure that development is sustainable ecologically and environmentally,” he said.
Earlier, in his welcome note, SDPI Executive Director Abid Qaiyum Suleri thanked the president for patronising the thinking community in general, and SDPI’s annual conference in particular. Discussing sustainable development in the times of COVID-19 this year, Dr Suleri said: “We are mindful of the fact how this pandemic disturbed the global agenda of achieving SDGs by 2030.” He said the pandemic incurred loss of precious lives and livelihoods across the world, forcing millions of students to stay away from their classrooms, and depriving non-COVID patients of healthcare.
He said that to facilitate food security-related decisions, the SDPI, with the support of the IDRC, Canada, and the FCDO, UK, developed a food security dashboard which would be inaugurated by the prime minister by the end of this month.