The meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Less Developed Areas held on Thursday at the Parliament House under the Chairmanship of Senator Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar. Present at the meeting were Senator Kulsoom Parveen, Senator Rahila Magsi, Senator Nighat Mirza, Senator Haji Momin Khan Afridi, Senator Muhammad Ayub, Senator Fida Muhammad, Senator Gian Chand and senior officers from The Ministry of Industries and Production, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA), Engineering Development Board (EDB) and Aik Hunar Aik Nagar (AHAN) operating as a not-for-profit Company since 2007. The Minister for Industries and Production, Mr. Abdul Razzaq Dawood also attended the meeting.
The agenda placed before the Committee was to deliberate over details briefing by the Ministry of Industries and Production regarding small and medium enterprises operating in less developed areas.
Chairman Committee, Senator Usman Khan Kakar regretted the fat the despite being the hub of culture and being rife with minerals it was a pity that areas of FATA, PATA, interior Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan were the least developed. He said that more share of resources and funds for development must be awarded to less developed areas. The trend to distribute resources on the basis of population must be curbed. He said that 71 percent of the area of Pakistan is underdeveloped and less than 20 percent budget is allocated for this. The Committee demanded the need for allocating more resources for these areas in the upcoming budget.
Minister for Industries and Production, Mr. Abdul Razzaq Dawood was of the view that there is no place in the world that can be called God forsaken. He stressed that every area in Pakistan and around the world has some skill or some speciality that can be promoted and the Ministry of Industries and Production is working day and night for this purpose. Speaking about Tharparkar he said that this area will be completely transitioned in the near future due to coal mining and power plants being set up in this area.
The Committees was briefed of the different industrial sectors being developed in less developed areas from Khyber to Karachi. The Committee was also briefed about the work of Aik Hunar Aik Nagar (AHAN) and the various initiatives it has been taking to promote the work of local artisans in Pakistan. The Committee was highly impressed by AHAN’s work and stressed the need to ensure all ruffles in their path are smoothed. Senator Rahila Magsi, offered AHAN with space to conduct a carnival to promote local artisans a park that she owns in Tando Allahyar free of cost.
Senator Fida Muhammad was of the view that there are many enterprises especially Steel Mills in Malakand Division, which also forms part of the less developed spectrum, being shut down due to intervention from environmental agencies. He said that they stressed that in order for enterprises to operate in these areas it was imperative that an NOC is procured. He said that shutting down of these industries has caused investor loss of crore of rupees and has left numerous without livelihood. He said if the government does not address this issue at the earliest there will be 16000 crowd out on the streets blocking the roads in Malakand Division. He stressed the role of government to provide livelihood rather than creating hiccups in already existing facilities.
Senator Gian Chand while speaking of Tharparker and its artefacts said that a policy must be formulated to promote artisans in these areas. He said that even though coal mining projects are being developed in Tar. This area has been cordoned off and not one village in Thar benefitting from energy or electricity even though there is one main line that provides electricity to enterprises operating in these areas.
Senator Kulsoom Parveen insisted that local artefacts of Balochistan, especially the Kilim industry must be revived; she said that these artefacts are appreciated worldwide.
The Committee recommended that chromite and coal washing plants be installed in Loralai and Harnoi and asserted that laboratories to test minerals be established. It also stressed the need to provide AHAN with a regular budget to ensure that local artisans and their cultural identity is promoted. The Committee also recommended that AHAN open outlets at airports and along the motorway. It also suggested that it display its products at shops in Parliament House and Lodges.