Salman Khan
Salman Khan

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Special Initiatives was informed on Monday that 16 per cent of uneducated population of Pakistan was unemployed while among the educated population 24pc of graduates were jobless out of whom 40 were female.

A meeting of the committee, presided over by its chairman Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, however, noted that these figures shared by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) were in contrast to the figures given by the government.

The PIDE officials elaborated that there were also hidden numbers in their figures such as those people who took admission to MPhil and PHD programmes only because they did not have employment opportunities. They said some 80pc of students were enrolled in MPhil/PHD courses due to this reason.

The committee chairman had sought “factual statistics” regarding the number of youth and unemployment ratio on which the panel could rely to take concrete decisions.

Authorities directed to address issues faced by Chinese investors

The PIDE in its research has proposed laws for hawkers and grant of licence to them.

The Senate committee directed the authorities concerned to address the issues faced by the Chinese investors, particularly those working under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The meeting discussed the issues being faced by the Chinese investors in Pakistan and the measures taken to resolve the issues.

The committee chairman in its previous meeting had inquired about the forum at which the issues of the Chinese investors should be taken up. There should be a remedy at government level, he had said.

The secretary of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives told the panel that a Pak-China Committee had been constituted with the objective to remove hurdles in finalisation and execution of the CPEC projects.

The CPEC Authority was also a suitable body to redress issues faced by the Chinese investors, he emphasised.

The Senate panel chairman said that it was a general observation that such committees were not effective and did not produce required results.

There should be a focal person to communicate the issues faced by the Chinse investors to the authorities concerned, Mr Mandviwalla added.

The committee secretary said that the chairman of the CPEC Authority was the right person to address the concerns of the Chinese investors through the committee. The Senate panel received a briefing on the roles, functions and performance of the PIDE. It was told that the PIDE was the first Asian think tank which was established in 1957 with the help of USAID to help the government in long-term planning. The PIDE’s engages in research, surveys, academic programmes and executive training through active and continuous debate on key issues, extensive engagements with policymakers, practitioners, professionals, academia and development partners. The mode of communication of the PIDE is through webinars/seminars, research videos and newspaper articles etc. The PIDE is working on several research agendas, including climate change, social protection, health and education.

The committee was told that in its recent publications the think tank had proposed reforms in the civil services regarding their incentives and costs.

The PIDE has also conducted research on the economic cost of tobacco-induced diseases in Pakistan and came to the conclusion that the prices of cigarettes are the lowest in Pakistan as compared to other countries but its health cost is three times the revenue generated by it.

The PIDE officials also spoke about the criteria through which universities were registered in Pakistan. The Senate committee was informed that unlike world- wide practice of enlisting of universities through charters, Pakistan approved a university through a bill introduced by the Higher Education Commission which had lacunas.

The PIDE officials told the committee that there were 40 training institutes and as many universities in Islamabad.

They told the committee that the total budget for the PIDE was Rs300 million out of which more than 90pc went into the salaries of the employees.

The committee chairman sought a report on the implementation of the research conducted by the PIDE so far along with its outcome.

The meeting was attended by Senators Dost Mohammad Khan, Ejaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Mohammad Tahir Bizenjo, Sardar Mohammad Shafiq Tareen and Hidayat Ullah.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2021

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