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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal presided over a high-level meeting to discuss the role and reforms of the Planning Commission with a committee formed on the instructions of the prime minister of Pakistan.

During the meeting, important aspects of economic reforms and capacity building necessary for sustainable development in Pakistan were reviewed.

Federal Minister for Power and Water Resources Musadik Malik, MNA Ali Pervez Malik, Planning Secretary, Cabinet Secretary and senior officials of the Ministry of Planning participated in the meeting.

Federal Minister Iqbal acknowledged the effective functioning of the operational and technical sections within the Planning Ministry. However, he emphasised the need to attract top talent from the market to enhance thought leadership within the ministry.

To achieve this, he signified the importance of revised remuneration. “We have to revise our pay scales to attract people with professional skills and experience from the market,” the minister stated.

Reflecting on past achievements, Iqbal cited the successful formulation and implementation of Vision 2025 during 2013-18. In addition, the Planning Ministry has the credit of achieving substantial savings amounting to Rs700 billion from the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) over five years from 2013 to 2018. This accomplishment was made possible through rigorous scrutiny of PSDP projects and careful financial management. He reiterated the importance of capacity building within line ministries to ensure the efficient preparation of project proposals (PC-Is), thereby, enabling the Planning Ministry to focus on strategic planning and thought leadership.

The planning minister emphasised that over the past 16 months, sector specialists from the market have been recruited within the Planning Ministry to strengthen the technical capabilities across diverse sectors and accelerate project completion.

Addressing the allocation of funds, Iqbal stressed the necessity of establishing clear benchmarks for PSDP financing in light of the devolution of powers to provinces post-18th amendment to enable informed decision-making by the federal government and reduce burden on PSDP.

While deliberating on suggestions to improve the efficiency of Planning Commission, the minister expressed that during 2013 to 2018, the same ministry and Planning Commission achieved all goals with great success despite having limited resources. “Vision 2025 was also put forth by the Planning Commission. There is no doubt that the role of the Ministry of Planning is commendable.”

He said that after the 18th amendment, following the transfer of powers to all the provinces, a clear policy regarding PSDP financing could not be given till date.

Committee officials agreed that the present structure of the Planning Commission pre-dates the Eighteenth Amendment.

The meeting concluded with the decision that actionable steps addressing each existing challenge will be taken to re-examine the structure of Planning Commission and make necessary reforms. Looking ahead, Iqbal emphasised the transformative potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the need for adaptive strategies to capitalise on emerging opportunities. He highlighted the imperative of re-evaluating existing governance structures.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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