ISLAMABAD-Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, represented Pakistan in a Ministerial Conclave: “Investing in Human Capital in the Time of Covid-19”, organised by the World Bank Group on the sideline of joint 2020-Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group (WBG) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in virtual format. The objective of the Conclave was to bring together ministers of finance and planning from the 78 Human Capital Project (PCP) countries and selected development partners to share experiences and inspire further action on (i) Mobilizing and safeguarding resources to protect and invest in people amid the pandemic, (ii) Prioritizing expenditures, generating efficiencies, and adopting innovative solutions for better and more equitable human capital outcomes within a limited fiscal space, and (iii) deploying innovative solutions to protect human capital outcomes and close equity. World Bank Group Vice President, Ms Mamta Murthi chaired the conclave. David Malpass, President of the World Bank Group, delivered the opening remarks at the occasion. Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar, while speaking at the occasion, shared that Pakistan is a country of 213 million people, with over 63% of population below 25 years of age and this makes Pakistan distinct and unique. However, periodic macroeconomic crises and a low human capital basis have constrained the country’s growth prospects and undermined sustainable development. This is why Pakistan became one of the first Early Adopters of the Human Capital Project. Prime Minister Imran Khan strongly believes in investing in the people of Pakistan as investment in the people can reap dividend that not only impact lives but also provide a sustainable path to progress. Good Governance and efficient resource allocation is a cornerstone of his agenda. However, the COVID-19 pandemic will have significant negative impacts on the economy. The government launched an economic stimulus package of Rs.1.2 trillion to mitigate the adverse impacts of corona pandemic on various sectors of the economy. Pakistan’s response to combat COVID-19 crisis remains strong robust and is recognized by international community. Pakistan, like other developing countries, faces the challenges of balancing adequate distribution of financial resources toward macroeconomic stability and human capital investments. Limited fiscal space along with federation’s governance structure further complicates the situation. In spite of this, the government is implementing the much-needed structural reforms in partnership with all the federating units, and in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals. 

He further highlighted that the commitment of government to build Human Capital has remained unchanged despite these challenges. To advance the HC agenda, the Government of Pakistan has initiated a set of programs; including revenue generation, education reforms, expansion of health insurance program and launch of a comprehensive poverty alleviation Ehsaas program etc., to provide the foundation for a stronger Human Capital base.