Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has said that high population growth rate was undermining countrys economic progress and called for steps to check it to increase availability of goods and services for the people.
Addressing a function marking the World Population Day the Premier said it was very important to plan and balance population growth with countrys resources, equitably and prudently.
Pakistan was the sixth most populous country in the world with the highest population growth rate at 2.
03 percent among the SAARC countries, resulting in annual addition of 3.
6 million people, he said, adding that, it was projected to reach 210.
13 million by the year 2020, and would double in next 34 years.
Gilani said at the same time, socio-economic gains already accomplished, were largely diluted by the increase in population.
He said it has allowed little progress in the field of social services such as food, security, health, education, housing, energy, transport, clean water and proper sanitation etc.
He said if the population grows faster than economic development, the country would never be able to meet peoples needs for economic and social services and every one will suffer especially the poorest.
Arresting the population growth rate will, therefore, serve the twin objectives of increasing the nations capacity to save and invest and simultaneously improve the per capita availability of goods and social services, he said.
He said it was possible to invest wisely even within the scarce resources, in right type of jobs and educational facilities.
We know that these investments will produce returns that will double or triple, with the passage of time.
He pledged to create opportunities for employment for both young men and women, and also to ensure that they have the skills to match these jobs.
Gilani said fewer children and better spaced families were a key to good health.
The health sector especially the departments of health and the lady health worker program, were best placed to deliver birth spacing services as it has the greater spread of services, the mandate and the know-how.
He said both in the public and the private sector birth spacing services would be provided free of cost throughout the country, through all levels of health facilities or on nominal charges.
Only then we will be able to increase access to birth spacing services, he said.
He said the young population was in search of positive avenues and said opportunities would be provided to them.
Gilani said the country has the potential for another turnaround by giving its young girls and women a chance of realizing their full potential, and added we know that women change the fate of families and of nations, once given the opportunity.
Gilani called for using national resources strategically and thoughtfully to immediately start planning for the current needs of the youthful population and to the emerging needs of the 60 million children who are within the 0-15 years age-group.
The Prime Minister said he would take this debate to parliament to discuss a vision for the future of Pakistans population: about the balance between resources and numbers.
We do need some national level consensus about our position on population size, he said and said Pakistan would not like to become the fifth largest nation with large segments of the population falling below the poverty line.
Gilani said sixth Population Census was being conducted to determine the exact population size.
He said the countrys population had increased from 32.
5 million to 177.
1 million, during 1947 to 2011.
Gilani said the 18th amendment was an opportunity for optimum utilization of resources for delivery of services by the provinces at the grassroots level.
He said everywhere in the world, health care facilities were the responsibility of local governments and said it would improve the services, particularly for health sector.
He said after the 18th Amendment, the Population Welfare Programme was devolved to the provinces.
The functions of the Ministry of Population Welfare such as, Planning, Coordination of National Policy on Population, Population Projections, Research and Coordination, etc.
, have been given to the Planning Commission.
Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Nadeem Ul Haque said Pakistan was adding population equivalent to New Zealand every year and Australia - every five years, but without providing the necessary institutions to cater for their needs.
He said for providing opportunities to the youth it was vital that the national growth rate is over 7 per cent.