Islamabad-The Ministry of Planning Development & Special Initiatives has issued authorisation for the release of 50 per cent of the total PSDP 2020-21 allocations for the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme. The Ministry of Planning Development & Special Initiatives has recommended release of 50 per cent or Rs2450 million out of the total PSDP 2020-21 allocations of Rs4.9 billion to Finance Division during first quarter for the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme, Phase I -Up Scaling of Green Pakistan Programmme.

The total approved cost of this project is Rs125.184 billion with the objective of planting trees all over the country, through Ministry of Climate Change. So far 280 million plants have been cultivated/Planted/ regenerated till now. The project has given employment to 83, 224 daily wage workers.

Meanwhile Deputy Chairman Planning Commission (DCPC) Muhammad Jahanzeb Khan while chairing the third high level inter-provincial meeting said that, Planning Commission to provide Rs70 Billion for National COVID-19 Programmes. In his opening remarks, DCPC informed that the funding will support the provinces for the four priority national initiatives namely the “National Health Up gradation Plan”, “Strengthening the Public Health Disease Surveillance and Response Systems”, “National Program for Water Sanitation and Hygiene” and “National Program for Creating Livelihoods” while targeting the marginalised populations who are more adversely affected by the epidemic.

While emphasising on urgency, he emphasised on the importance of credible network of labs, establishment of quarantine facilities and the ports of entry and having electronic medical record systems. He said that ‘we must realise that the storm is still hovering around’ and there is a need to be vigilant of the ever-mutating nature of viral infections and be prepared before the next wave.

Member Social Sector Dr. Shabnum Sarfraz in her presentation said that the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a deadly reminder of the gaps in healthcare systems’ capacity globally, underscoring the need for significant investment of resources to strengthen the healthcare infrastructure and build system resilience to weather public health shocks. Now 146 days into the pandemic, Pakistan is witnessing a decline in daily cases, along with decreasing positivity rates.

The forum deliberated and developed consensus around the four priority national initiatives for which dedicated funds of Rs70 billion have been earmarked in PSDP 2020-21. Federal Secretary MoNHSRC Amer Ashraf Khawaja said that the funds will not only address the current situation but will also build the country’s resilience. He informed that the Cabinet has recently approved the NIH Act 2020 which would support the COVID-19 response and preparedness interventions.

Deputy Chairman Planning Commission said that the Government of Pakistan adopted a multi-pronged approach to ensure a swift response to the epidemic. Funds were repurposed promptly and made available to plan and respond to COVID-19, procure life-saving supplies and equipment that was vital to blunt the immediate impact. Socio-economic impact assessment supported by the UN partners was translated into COVID-19 responsive annual plans. He said that the federal government through this allocation of Rs70 Billion in its PSDP would like to work with the provinces for interventions targeted to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and said that this would substantiate the provincial governments’ COVID-19 emergency response and preparedness plans.

The forum was attended by federal secretaries, chairman and senior officials from the planning and development boards of Punjab and Sindh, Additional Chief Secretaries of KP, Balochistan, AJK and Gilgit Baltistan, Secretaries and senior representatives from the federal MoNHSRC and provincial health departments, Members and Chiefs at the Planning Commission.