National Assembly of Pakistan in collaboration with UNICEF Pakistan hosted a Round-table Session on ‘Integrating SDGs Agenda into Standing Committees.’ The venue of this session was Committee Room 5, Parliament House. The event began at 11 am with the recitation and was moderated by Honorable MNA, Madam Shandana Gulzar Khan.
The roundtable session was attended by Honorable Chairmen of the Standing Committees and National Parliamentary Taskforce on SDGs. Mr. Riaz Fatyana, MNA, Convener SDGs Taskforce, in his welcome remarks said, “193 Member States of the United Nations made a universal promise in 2015 to leave no one behind through 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With 10 years left to achieve the SDGs, and COVID-19 causing devastating setbacks for the world poorest and most vulnerable, the UN 2030 Agenda for SDGs at its core provides an organized and structured blueprint of international cooperation.”
Mr. Luis Gorjon, Chief Social Policy, UNICEF Pakistan welcomed all the Parliamentarians and stated that “The Parliament has an opportunity, and a constitutional responsibility, to play a significant role in supporting and monitoring SDG implementation in Pakistan.”
UNICEF gave a detailed presentation on “Policy Discussion and Recommendation on SDGs Financing – Child-Centered Budget Analysis” which highlighted the importance of Public finance for Children.
The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Hafiz A. Pasha, Economist, Former Federal Minister. In his address, he stated “Budgetary indicators demonstrate a glaring lack of consideration when it comes to SDGs in Pakistan. An analysis of budgetary allocations indicates that the total allocation for Human Development programs has remained around 0.74% of the total public expenditure of the Federal government in 2013-14 and less than 1% of GDP during the last four years. This makes it imperative for programs, interventions, and policies to champion the rights of the people effectively. Since investment in public is demonstrated through the state budget- the budget should be Human-friendly/sensitive. It is a first step in examining the resources government is allocating to programs that benefit the general public, and whether these programs adequately reflect the needs of the citizens.”
The keynote address led to a constructive debate that identified and analyzed the communication gaps and coordination loopholes. The Parliamentarians directly questioned the development partners and committee chairpersons. They presented their concerns and a way forward for efficient and effective coordination between the standing committees and SDGs taskforce.
The session was concluded by Hon. Ms. Nafeesa I. Khattak, in her remarks, said, “The Standing Committees of the House plays an important role in oversight & monitoring the working of the relevant Ministries of the Govt. In the parliamentary democracies, the Committees are regarded as ‘eyes, ears, hands and even brain of the Parliament.”