Expenditures on social safety nets not to be compromised: Dar

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ISLAMABAD, Nov 27 (APP): Minister for Finance and Revenue,Muhammad Ishaq Dar on Friday said strengthening and enhancing outreach of social safety nets was being given priority as  expenditures in this areas have been increased from Rs. 34 billion
to 102 billion during last two years.
Despite taking hard decisions on economic fronts no compromise was made in social welfare projects, he said while addressing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) ceremony
amongst Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal (PBM), Universal Service Fund (USF) and Microsoft here under ICT for Girls Initiative.
Under the MoU, USF in collaboration with Microsoft would establish 50 information technology laboratories in women empowerment centers running under Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal (PBM) across the under privileged areas for their skill development and economic
empowerment.
In these centers about 4,000 to 5,000 girls would be provided
IT training including web designing, networking and other skills to
make them economically self-reliant.
Appreciating the initiative, Ishaq Dar said women empowerment
by making them economically self-reliant was part of the PML-N’s
election manifesto and government was determined to fulfill its
promises.
Besides, he said that government has also enhanced annual
budget of PBM by 100 percent, aimed at assisting and supporting the
deserving patients of chronic diseases.
The social well-being was our religious obligations and top
priority of government, adding that every one should come forward to
give its share for social welfare programmes, he remarked.
Ishaq Dar said provision of modern IT labs would enable the
young girls of these centers to meet challenges of modern world
besides skill training to economically empower the women.
Highlighting the economic performance of the government, he
said the government has taken some hard decisions to turn around the
economy adding that due to these efforts now all economic indicators
are showing resilience.
Besides developing the historic forex reserves which have
touched US $ 20 billion mark, now government was eyeing on US $21
billion by addressing the bottlenecks in economic development.
He informed that budget deficit was considerably decreased
from 8 percent to 4 percent and all the forecasts of default were
averted besides abolishing all discretionary funds of different
ministries and departments.
The Minister reiterated the government’s resolve to further
strengthening economy by addressing the issues of energy and
terrorism from the country.
He said government has started work on mega energy generation
projects to produce 25,000 MW of electricity, adding that 10,000 MW
to be materialized during the tenure of current government.
Addressing the ceremony, Minister of State for Information
Technology and Telecommunications, Anusha Rahman said initiation of
ICT for Girls programme has opened doors of IT and modern knowledge
for future builders of Pakistan to become entrepreneurs and
contributors to national development.
“It is quite important and vital that women segment who
constitutes 50 per cent of country’s population, should come
forward, show their potential and contribute in socio-economic
development,” she said.
The Minister said it is resolve of the government under
an able leadership of Prime Minister, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to
creating and setting up various bundles and plans to elevate
abilities and information of Pakistani women in ICT to build their
employability.
Anusha Rahman said the ICTs for young girls system has
been launched with joint effort of Pakistan Baitul Maal (PBM),
Universal Service Fund (USF) and Microsoft to help prepare a
great many young girls from underestimated area of society, with
a goal that they can get suitable occupations.
The Minister emphasized in this age of innovation and
technological advancement, steps need to be taken that
benefits of ICT reach girls and women, adding that her government
was focusing on this particular areas and ensuring implementation
following party’s manifesto.
She advised that the women segment should not restricted
themselves for typing only rather they should take advantage of
and focus on learning different IT and computer courses as
Information Technology has assumed a pivotal role in every
sphere of life. This phenomenon will also lead to women empowerment,
she continued.
Anusha Rahman also recorded measures adopted by government
to advance Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in
the nation and mentioned tele-centre project which has been
launched to facilitate population in underserved areas of the
country.
There would be separate desks including 10 for males and 10
for females in a tele-centre.
The other initiative is setting up of Software Technology
Parks and also a tech city in Islamabad. She said her Ministry is in
process of developing tech city, adding that during first week of
January next we would be able to announce final bidder for the
project where young entrepreneurs would be facilitated.
She said the initiatives introduced have started bearing
fruits as Pakistan has achieved 4th position in E-lancer area
where people work and earn their livelihood while working at homes.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), USF, Faisal Sattar highlighted
the achievements of his organization and said out of targeted
7,000 mauzas across the country, 4000 have been provided ICT
services while optic fibre cable was also being laid to facilitate
the remotest parts.
In his brief remarks, Managing Director, PBM, Barrister Abid
Waheed Sheikh said out of 150 Women Empowerment Centres (WEC) across
the country, Microsoft is setting-up IT labs in 50 WEC.
He said it is our duty to impart IT education to girls in
order to enable them to earn their livelihood and contribute in
national development.
He said around 4000 to 5000 girls would be imparted training
in ICT related areas in first phase of the programme.
Country Head of Microsoft, Nadeem Malik expressed commitment
of his organization in promoting ICT and hoped this particular
initiative would help materialize government’s vision to make
Pakistan a digital country.
Chairperson, National Commission on Status of Women, Khawar
Mumtaz spoke about ICT for Girls programme and said this would
help ensure women empowerment and make them productive citizens.
Later, heads of PBM, USF and Microsoft signed the document
on behalf of their respective organizations amid presence of
Ishaq Dar and Anusha Rahman.
The ceremony was attended by CEOs of mobile phone and telecom
companies, legislators, senior government officials and media
persons.