Deputy Head of European Union delegation meets Minister for planning, discuss economic cooperation, energy issues

Islamabad, July 15, 2013 (PPI-OT): Deputy Head of Delegation of European Union, Mr. Pierre Mayaudon, called on Federal Minister for Planning and Development, Prof Ahsan Iqbal here on Monday. He was accompanied by other senior officials of the delegation.

Members of the delegation discussed the issues of bilateral interest including trade, energy and future role of Planning Commission.

Prof Ahsan Iqbal informed Mr. Pierre Mayaudon that the government had taken over reins of power at a critical juncture and it was facing a number of challenges. But he said that challenges were not bigger than hope and the government’s firm resolve. He told the Deputy Head of EU delegation that Pakistan and European Union were good partners and friends.

He thanked and praised the role EU played during the long struggle against autocratic rule in Pakistan. EU was the only voice from west in favour of pro-democratic forces. Stance of European Union was very much principled and we admire the support which EU extended for the cause of democracy in Pakistan, the Minister said.

Mr Pierre showed his commitment on the behalf of EU for the contribution to development in Pakistan. He also said that they were working on an institutional framework to develop ties between the two countries. He also informed the minister about the development in trade negotiations between EU and Pakistan.

He said that a link between EU and Pakistan was being developed to jointly fight terrorism. He discussed EU-Pak five year development engagement programmes. He also talked about 2009 and 2010 EU-Pak summits and EU-Pak strategic dialogue in 2012. EU delegation focused on future of planning commission and resolution of the energy crisis.

Responding to the question of Mr. Pierre, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal said that Planning Commission had independent role in 1990’s but during last 14 years the Commission had lost most of its powers and was made a subordinate department of Ministry of Finance. This, he said hampered the role and functioning of the Commission.

The Minister explained the decision had been taken to transform Planning Commission into an independent body with two major functions. Firstly, it would be developed into a strategic development think tank rather than a body making repairs in government ministries.

It would plan out development programs regarding future needs of growing population so that we do not face crisis like energy shortage. Secondly, he said, it would be developed to transform production sector from commodity to high value addition. He said we are facing uneven approach in development programs but after redefining the role of PC we will have comprehensive linkages in Planning but this needs complete restructuring of PC.

The Minister said we are planning to attract Pakistani talent form worldwide and engaging them into a participatory mode for planning, development and ideas. We are starting with Pakistan talent bank of young professionals to engage them in a fellowship program so that we utilize their best talent and we are also trying to create strong technology platform.

He said hardware building is not the complete development. There is another side of it, which is software development in the form of social capital and positive values. In order to develop soft side of the program we have already engaged social engineers to mould society into a positive and constructive resource, the Minister added.

The Minister went on to say that they were planning to make use of GIS imagery and satellite based technology in place of old fashioned maps in order to get accuracy and reliability. We are planning to establish GIS data centre in Planning Commission. Representatives of EU praised the ideas of the Minister and assured their full support of high level expertise from Europe.

Minister told the Representative that they had asked the World Bank to extend its support in improving governance side. He also told that they were engaged with Asian Development Bank in a long term program for a similar purpose.

Representatives of the EU said that European Investment Bank was willing to invest in energy sector of the country. Europe was interested to support Pakistan in run of the river projects of small and medium size. They also pointed out some of the problems they were facing regarding investment.

The Minister said they may write to him in case of any hurdle they face and assured his full cooperation in execution of the development projects. He told them that Prime Minister was unhappy over the delay in hydro-power projects especially the Nelum-Jhelum hydropower project. He told that provinces were free to execute hydropower projects and that the federal government will support them in this regard.

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