National Assembly Speaker calls for collective effort to attain social development goals
ISLAMABAD, 3 JUNE 2014: Speaking at the National Conference on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) held at Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal announced that a grant of Rs 12.5 billion has been reserved in the 2014-15 Budget for community-led MDG initiatives.
The Conference was formally inaugurated by the Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on Tuesday morning. In his Inaugural address, the Speaker called for the engagement of all parliamentary task forces to reinforce efforts in achieving the MDGs. He suggested that provincial lawmakers constitute committees in their respective legislatures to perform effective oversight of the provincial executives on MDGs.
He emphasized a non-partisan approach toward the country’s development. He assured provincial lawmakers that they had the full support of the National Assembly regarding the MDGs. He called on the media, academia, development partners and civil society to extend their support to legislators working toward the development agenda.
Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal stressed the importance of the continuity of the country’s political system for long-term development, quoting examples of fast growth rates in China, Korea, Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. He described “stability as key to development.” Emphasizing the need for trained human resources in the development process, he said the fight for the country’s future will be fought in classrooms and laboratories. He asked provincial legislators to take ownership of MDG related programmes as the 18th Constitutional Amendment devolves work on the MDGs to the province level. He gave a wake-up call to legislators explaining that Pakistan is lagging behind many African nations in social development indicators.
The Convener of the Parliamentary Task Force on the MDGs Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the occasion was the first of its kind where legislators and a representative of the executive branch were sitting together to discuss the MDGs. “We all want the MDGs and when we look at the Constitution of Pakistan, these are all principles of the constitution. Through this exercise, we aim to come up with a work plan for next year,” she told the participants.
UNDP Deputy Country Director Tracy Vienings observed that in the absence of robust legislation and oversight by elected representatives, the attainment of the MDGs and other development goals will remain just a dream. “The MDG framework is essentially a mirror image of the election manifestos of many political parties, and hence the MDGs are as relevant in Pakistan as they are elsewhere. Your efforts to achieve the MDGs are in fact serving your constituencies. Today’s event shows that you fully appreciate this fact and are leading the social development agenda in Pakistan and I want to really congratulate you on this.”
Fatimah Inayet, Communications Analyst, UNDP Pakistan.