ISLAMABAD, Nov 27 (APP): Minister for Finance, Muhammad Ishaq Dar Friday said that strengthening and enhancing the outreach of social safety nets for poor of the poorest was top most priority of the government.Addressing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) ceremony among Pakistan Bait‑ul‑Mal, Universal Service Fund (USF) and Microsoft here, he said that government has enhanced its expenditures to support and assist the vulnerable segments for their economic uplift and social prosperity.Under the MoU, USF in collaboration with Microsoft would establish 50 information technology laboratories in women centers running under Pakistan Bait‑ul‑Mal across the under privileged areas for their skill development and economic empowerment. In these centers, running under Pakistan Bait‑ul‑Mal, 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. The government has also enhanced its expenditures on social safety nets from Rs. 34 billion to 102 billion during last two years and despite taking hard decision on economic fronts no compromise was made in social welfare projects, he added. Besides, he said that government has also enhanced annual budget of Pakistan Bait‑ul‑Mal 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 that provision of modern IT labs would enable the young girls of these centers to meet the challenges of modern world besides skill
training to economically empower the women.Highlighting the economic performance of the government, he said that 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 the economy by addressing the issues of energy and terrorism from the country.He said that 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.Speaking on the occasion, Managing Director Pakistan Bait‑ul‑Mal, Barrister Abid Waheed Shaikh said that the body was established by Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif in his tenure of 1990. He said that Pakistan Bait‑ul‑Mal was the largest social safety net which was helping in provision
which was helping in provision of basic necessities for the poor of the poorest in the country. He informed that currently about 150 women centers were working across the country in order to economically empower the women adding that these centers were revamped.He said that under the MoU the USF would establish 50 state‑of‑the‑art IT labs where 5000 girls would be trained and make them economically stable self reliant.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 Minister for Finance and Revenue, Ishaq Dar and Anusha Rahman.
The ceremony was attended by CEOs of mobile phone and telecom companies, legislators, senior government officials and media persons.