Moving backwards: Descending the ladder of development

Speakers cite minimal allocation as the main hurdle in achieving goals.

Express March 22, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is all set to fail in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly in education and health. The reason for this is lack of budget allocation.

These views were expressed by participants at a two-day conference on `Monitoring the achievements of the MDGs and weaknesses of the existing budgetary allocations' organised by AusAid and ActionAid Pakistan on Monday.

The event was attended by Senator Haji Adeel, Dr Pervez Tahir, former chief economist Punjab, Dr Ishaq Baloch, National Party Balochistan and representatives of civil society organisations from across the nation, among others.

They declared the crisis of democracy, terrorism, corruption, poor infrastructure and unfair economic distribution as the major factors behind Pakistan's inability to meet targets. The earthquake of 2005 and floods in 2010 also took a huge toll on the country and pushed it backwards in terms of economic stability. The speakers said that we are moving backwards from where we stood in 2000.

Malik Sarfaraz, executive director Ufaq Development Organisation from Multan, said it is unfortunate that the city of the prime minster is facing several health issues and lags behind in education due to financial constraints.

“Out of the total budget allocated to Multan, only 10 per cent is being used for education, three per cent on health and one per cent for water supply. No money has been allocated for general public development projects“ he said.

He said majority of the budget is allocated for either construction of new roads or highways, which are not required.

Zulfiqar Lund from Hirrak Development Centre, Kot Addu, said in his region majority of the funds are being allocated in areas where there are more chances of corruption, like repairing roads or government buildings.

Moreover, Zulfiqar Halepoto from Thardeep Rural Development Program, Sindh, said after floods the situation of women and children under the age of five had worsened in Sindh.

He termed it as one of the main reasons that Pakistan would not be able to achieve its MDGs in empowering women and combating child mother mortality rate.

Dr Pervez Tahir said after the 18th Amendment, the government has transferred all powers to the provinces but did not make them independent for imposing taxes.
“This will be an issue for them, as they would not be able to generate accordingly,“ he said.

Director Area Study Centre from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Dr Sarfarz Ahmed said due to terrorism, lawlessness along with recent floods, the situation in K-P had deteriorated.

Government and humanitarian organisation's survey records showing progress in education sector was also challenged by the speakers.
Haji Adeel contended that the situation in K-P and Fata had gotten worse due to prolonged war on terror. He said that the absence of good road infrastructure and inability of K-P government to store water for hydel-power generation and irrigation system has barred the provincial government's capacity to meet MDGs.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 22nd, 2011.


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