The Parliamentary Task Force on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa convened the second virtual online meeting of the Task Force to discuss the legislature’s response to the COVID-19 crisis

The Parliamentary Task Force on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa convened the second virtual online meeting of the Task Force to discuss the legislature’s response to the COVID-19 crisis

Under the Chairmanship of the Convener, Mr. Arif Ahmedzai, Special Assistant to CM on Mines & Mineral the Task Force met to be briefed by the SDGs Unit of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on the socio-economic impact assessment & response plan by UN agencies; to suggest key focus areas and recommendations for the proposed research paper on the upcoming financial budget (2020 -21) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and to explore and identify ways for better communication with the constituents on mass awareness related to governmental policies with regard to Coivd-19.

As the supreme democratic institution to legislate and oversee as well as advise the executive authorities, the Provincial Assembly has formed the Task Force on SDGs comprising of Members from all the parliamentary parties. Given the mandate, the members are actively taking part to support the efforts of the provincial government. In this context, the Convener called the second meeting of the Task Force on Wednesday, 29th April, 2020 to discuss the ongoing COVID-19.

The virtual meeting was attended by Mr. Arif Ahmedzai, Convener/Special Assistant to Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Mines and Minerals; Mr. Zahoor Shakir, Special Assistant to Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Zakat and Ushr; other MPAs including Syed Fakhar Jahan, Ms. Rehana Ismail, Ms. Humaira Khatoon, Ms. Ayesha Bano, Mr. Babar Saleem Swati, Ms. Asia Khattak, Dr. Sumera Shams, Mr. Salahudin Mohmand, Mr. Sahibzada Sanaullah, Mr. Rangez Ahmed. Whereas Syed Waqar Shah, Special Secretary represented the provincial assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mr. Sabir Shah, who is the Project Manager at SDGs Unit, Syed Bilal Hussian from Information department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa along with Mr. Karim Gabol, Mr. Bilal Khattak and Mr. Waqas Paracha from UNDP attended the online meeting.

The Members were briefed by the SDGs Unit about the latest Pakistan’s socio-economic impact assessment & response plan developed by UN agencies in Pakistan. Based on the briefing, the Members jointly agreed to recommend suggestions to the provincial government for the upcoming budget in the form of a research paper from SDGs Task Force covering areas related to health, social protection, employment, small & medium enterprises (SMEs), public works, emergency response, and economic recovery. The meeting also discussed the importance of Article 119 of the Constitution on custody, etc., of Provincial Consolidated Fund and Public Account. Where the Members suggested to bring reforms in the public financial management processes for better oversight of funds by the Assembly and to give the true spirit of the Constitutional obligation.
The Members emphasized the involvement of the Ulema, scholars, schoolteachers, and civil servants for awareness among the masses. In this regard, a communication strategy was also discussed and agreed upon under which video messages would be developed and radio shows would be carried out to inform the people about the SoPs of social distancing and to get support on the governmental efforts in fighting this pandemic. Similarly, the Members recommended involving the traders, small businessmen, industrialists, manufacturers, and other stakeholders before taking any critical discussion about the business community for economic recovery. They suggested a database at constituency or district level of all the governmental and non-governmental organizations to be developed to reach out to the most affected, needy people in order to prevent any duplication and to ensure a coordinated response.

The Members of the Task Force recommended having at least 5% of an emergency fund to be allocated in the budget at every financial year as a financial safety net for future disasters or unexpected expenses such as this Covid-19 pandemic. While discussing the Assembly’s role in devising a joint strategy for the pandemic the meeting resulted in the reiteration of a collective resolve on the part of the lawmakers to provide any type of support required to the provincial government to ensure that immediate and essential actions are being taken for the welfare of the people of the province.
At the end of the virtual meeting the Convener SDGs Task Force thanking all the Members for attending, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Secretariat officials and SDGs unit for facilitating the meeting and asked for continued support to the Task Force in enhanced response and actions in reply to the current crisis.