ISLAMABAD: Planning and Development Secretary Hassan Nawaz Tarar has blamed Pakistan’s failure to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on low savings and financial crises.
According to the secretary, Pakistan’s savings were only at 13.2 per cent, almost 50 per cent less than its neighbours such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia. Mr Tarar said that the national savings of Bangladesh are currently at 29 per cent.
The planning secretary was briefing members of the Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Reforms, chaired by Senator Rehman Malik, on Thursday.
He claimed that Pakistanis preferred to invest their money in property and automobiles rather than income-generating businesses, which was the cause of the problem. “Because of different lifestyles and nature of people, Pakistanis give less importance to business,” he said, “However, in other countries people prefer to invest their savings in businesses.”
Planning & development secretary says Pakistan lagging behind in healthcare, education; security expenditure forces country to seek IMF assistance
“A large number of children are suffering from malnutrition. As per the MDGs, we have to bring down the under-five mortality rate to 52, but the current rate is 89 deaths per 1,000 children. The immunisation rate has to be 90 per cent, but it is actually 80 per cent,” he said.
“Lady Health Workers’ (LHWs) coverage should be 100 per cent in the country, but at the moment LHWs are only working in 80 per cent of the country. The literacy rate of the country should be 88 per cent, but right now, it is at 58 per cent,” he said.
Mr Tarar said that the MDGs require that at least 55 per cent of all couples should be using contraceptives, but so far this figure has only reached 35 per cent.
The goals also state that forest cover should be six per cent, which at the moment is 5.2 per cent, he said.
Committee Chairman Rehman Malik said that almost 65 per cent of Pakistan’s revenue is spent on security and foreign debts. We have no choice but to go for International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s programmes and follow its policies. We should aim for self reliance, Senator Malik said.
“At the moment, major businessmen are shifting their businesses out of the country. The money is also being shifted out through hawala and hundi. Our biggest issue is income generation,” he said.
The senator added that planning is considered the backbone of every country and lauded the ‘Vision 2025’ presented by planning ministry, but he said there is nothing in terms of practical work.
“A number of projects have been delayed and the cost of those projects has increased due to inflation. The government has announced that loans will be given to the students, but there are no criteria to ensure the recovery of those loans,” he said.
He also pointed out the lack of an awareness programme regarding HIV/AIDS.
A member of the committee, Amar Jeet, diverted the attention of the committee towards Swat, where more than 30 cases of dengue have been reported. Resultantly, Rehman Malik instructed the committee secretary to write to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) chief minister and ask him to address the issue.
Nisar Muhammad, another member of the committee, said that some areas, such as communication, health, water and power, are not clear in the 18th amendment.
“Funds are being spent on unapproved projects in Lahore, but approved projects of KP, such as Munda Dam, are being ignored. KP is facing all the brunt of the war against terrorism, but only one per cent of the coalition support fund is being given to KP,” he said.
Published in Dawn, July 25th , 2014