Amid opp protest,  Alvi lauds PTI govt’s economic performance and welfare initiatives

Statesman Report

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday addressed a joint sitting of parliament marking the start of the fourth parliamentary year of the National Assembly.

Alvi began his speech by congratulating the members of parliament on the start of the new legislative year, and expressed the wish that democratic values and “tradition of tolerance” flourished in Pakistan.

Talking about the economic challenges last year, the president noted that world economies shrank due to the negative consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, but due to the government’s prudent policies, “Pakistan’s economic performance was better compared to other countries.”

Amid loud protest by the opposition benches, the president paused to say: “Despite you making noise, you will have to accept the reality.”

He noted that in the financial year 2021-21, Pakistan’s exports increased to $25.3 billion, while the Pakistan Stock Exchange “broke all past records and became Asia’s best-performing market and world’s fourth-best”.

He said overseas investors had shown confidence in government policies and business confidence had increased by 60 per cent.

“People paying tax in such large numbers shows complete trust in government policies,” Alvi said, congratulating the government for devising and implementing laws and procedures to address the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force.

Recounting the government’s steps to uplift the masses, he said it had given a big construction package to people from the lower segments and the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme was started. “Not only has there been speed in financial activities but also opportunities for livelihood have been created,” he added.

He acknowledged the 2.77pc growth in the agriculture sector, and lauded a government initiative to provide skills training to youth under which he said 1.7 million youngsters had been provided opportunities.

The president said with the help of technologies such as cloud computing, software development and data analysis, there was a possibility of achieving faster development, while the youth could help in controlling cyber defence and security issues.

He also appreciated the government for adopting policies based on human compassion, saying human development indexes had been neglected in the past.

“Because of corruption and wrong priorities, we were not only deprived of progress but also left behind the world in human development indicators,” he said, noting that in the modern age, national security was not just limited to borders and soldiers but also depended on food, education and health sectors.

He mentioned a number of social protection measures introduced by the government under the umbrella of the Ehsaas programme, saying their highlight was that they focussed on humans.

The president noted that the government had set aside Rs260bn through which 12 million families will be given cash income, while Rs100bn had been earmarked for the Kamyab Jawan programme to give loans to the youth to start businesses.

On the government’s efforts in the health sector, Alvi said “Pakistan is going towards universal health coverage,” adding that 18 million families were benefitting from the health cards so far.

Measures are also being taken to facilitate telemedicine, he said, urging the government to focus on this area.

Noting that the burden on resources was increasing due to Pakistan’s growing population, the president highlighted the need to pay attention to population control and requested the government to increase funding in this regard.

Women’s rights

Alvi said the government had paid “special attention” to the rights of women and special needs persons and new laws had been made as well.