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LAHORE: Pakistan’s performance battling the Covid-19 epidemic was much better than other countries as it not only demonstrated a better strategy in the field of health than other countries, but economic indicators have also been better than other countries.

Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht addressing the fourth edition of Pakistan Leadership Conversation (PLC 2022) PLC centred on the theme, “Rethinking our world: Sustainable growth for Pakistan” organized by the Association of Chartered Certified Accounts (ACCA) on subject ‘Talent, Technology and Transformation’ said that the smart lockdown policy proved effective in controlling the spread of the epidemic.

There has also been a relative decline in mortality due to the proportion of patients in hospitals and the proportion of epidemic protection facilities. The Ehsas programme facilitated the working class while the businesses class took advantage of the special measures of the State Bank of Pakistan. He observed that the credit of the revival of business and economy to keep afloat goes to the current government.

Hashim said that covid-19 provides great learning experiences for the government as well as private sector alongside many losses. The Covid-19 provided an opportunity to the government to use technology as flaws of the human resource system were exposed during the pandemic. The healthcare system has improved while small works flourished. The government first time has taken concrete steps to grow the business.

A relief package of Rs56 billion has been introduced in Punjab to reduce provincial revenue. The tax rate on more than 20 services has been reduced from 16 percent to 5 percent while special discounts were given to construction services. He mentioned that a sustainable model of emergency investment was developed for the preparation of the budget in view of Covid-19 and Covid centric budget was presented.

Finance minister disclosed that the government also got an opportunity to know what kind of human resources are required to improve the performance of different institutions while working with one third of the Punjab Workforce during Covid-19. Further, the areas were identified where with the shortage of human resources and the shortage was managed with the use of technology.

Hashim said that the Punjab government three years ago introduced a mobile application called E-pay for tax collection for the convenience of common man which was very successful as Rs70 billion was collected so far through the application. He observed that use of E-pay type application improved governance of the government. In the model of sustainable development, economic growth depends on increasing exports in which technology is of key importance, he added. He announced the establishment of federal-style special technology zones in Punjab during the leadership conversation.

The fourth edition of PLC centred on the theme “Rethinking our world: Sustainable growth for Pakistan” and brought together leading policy makers, thought leaders, corporate influencers, academia and business operators for a dialogue centred on the power of digital, sustainability/ESG, ethics and future ready workforce.

In Karachi, Dr Shamshad Akhtar, Nadeem Hussain, Founder Planet N Group of Companies/Chairman Pakistan Fintech Network attended the event as Guest of Honour. Speaking on the topic of Accelerated Financial Inclusion, he said, “Digitalization plays an imperative role in enhancing social mobility and these shifts can not be made without understanding the customer need and creating the simplest customer journey.”

Muhammad Ali Tabba, CEO Lucky Cement Limited as the Guest of Honour shared his thoughts on Opportunity and Size - Fast Tracking the investment landscape saying, “The distribution of energy, its mix and privatization is imperative for our growth agenda. Moreover, enabling make in Pakistan environment will help import substitution fuelling employment, self-reliance and sustainable economic growth driven by exports.

As a part of her keynote address, Dr Shamshad Akhtar, Chairperson PSX and PICG spoke on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, while Re-calibrating our Practices for Sustainable Growth she said, “As Pakistan sets to become part of global economies through BRI / CPEC and export focused, strategy - relevance of diversity, equity and inclusion is extremely critical for all stakeholders to achieve the recognised global standards of performance and excellence.”

The first session, titled, “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Re-calibrating Practices for Sustainable Growth” featured Ahsan Jamil, CEO, Pakistan Institute of Corporate Governance; Farrukh H Khan, Managing Director & CEO, Pakistan Stock Exchange; Maheen Rahman, CEO – Infra Zamin Pakistan; Mohammad Shoaib, CEO - Al Meezan Investment Management Limited; Navid Fazil, CEO - Interloop Limited moderated by Sadia Dada, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, K-Electric.

The second session was led by a key note address from Sadia Khan, Commissioner - Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan who shared her thoughts on the topic, “Ethics, Technology, ESG - Accelerating national economic transformation”. She said, “Ethical behaviour is at the core of good governance and sustainability. The importance of ESG and sustainability has been rightfully amplified in a short time with increased focus in the areas of financial reporting, investing and business practices.” Adding on to the guidelines issued by SECP on CSR, she added, “We introduce voluntary guides to enable good business practices that add value to the community”.

The talk was moderated by Hena Sadiq, Partner Audit and Assurance - Yousuf Adil Chartered Accountants; Rana Nadeem, Partner - KPMG Taseer Hadi & Co.; Saquib Ahmad, Country Managing Director - SAP Pakistan; Shahzad Shahid, Group CEO - TPS Online; Zeeshan Shahid, Director Risk and Compliance – BYKEA

In Lahore, Salman Shah, Advisor to the Chief Minister of Punjab on Economic Affairs and Planning & Development attended the event as the Guest of Honour. Speaking on the topic, “Re-thinking Sustainable Investment Landscape in Pakistan”, he said, “Government has shifted greater focus on sustainable development and enabling up-skilling of businesses to benefit from e-market places like Amazon and Ali Baba. Clean and renewable energy is another imperative to the growth of our economy”.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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