ISLAMABAD  -   Minister for Planning Development and Reforms Khusro Bakhtiar on Wednesday said that unless tax to GDP ratio is increased to 20 percent the 17 goals target indicated under SDGs cannot be attained.

“Our government is committed and is taking steps for the course correction and our prime target is to enhance tax to GDP ratio to 20 percent,” Federal Minister for Planning Development and Reforms, Khusro Bakhtiar said while addressing a National Consultation on Pakistan's Voluntary National Review preparation on Sustainable Development Goals here.

The planning minister said that Pakistan’s effort to achieve sustainable development has been severely hindered by a combination of unfavorable internal and external factors in recent years like high population growth, large proportion of population living below the poverty line, exploiting the potential of growth, trade imbalances with major trading partners, and instability in political relationship with neighboring countries.

He informed that challenges posed by climate change, natural disasters, cost of war on terror Rs. 10,374 billion from 2001 to 2017, low tax-to-GDP ratio, the impacts of the global economic recession, lack of financial resources, low resource mobilization at provincial level and high dependency on federal transfers also restraint government efforts for stable growth and sustainable development.

The minister said that our tax to GDP ratio is shamefully low and it it is the commitment of the present government to increase it to 20 percent. The minister further said that unless the private sector is incorporated in the process of SDGs implementation the indicators will be hard to achieve. Government has recognize the private sector for partnering to complement its efforts to achieve the SDGs.

SDG is national agenda which is above the party line, he added. Khusro Bakhtiar said that despite challenges, Pakistan has firm resolve to continue its efforts for attaining sustainable development by implementing the global development agenda of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) comprising of 17 goals and 169 targets.

Khusro Bakhtiar said that the Ministry of PD&R in collaboration with provinces and local governments launched National Initiative on SDGs to mainstream and accelerate SDGs implementation in the country.

“Our focus during forthcoming years will be on strengthening and improvement in social and human development, like mother and child health, education and pulling households out of poverty through sustainable poverty reduction strategies,” he added.

"We need to improve coordination with the stakeholders including private sector, development partners and strengthen reporting mechanisms", he added.

The Planning Commission is committed to ensure that the VNR process is inclusive and the aspirations of stakeholders particularly those of private sector are incorporated in the report, he said, adding that it will help in disseminating the knowledge about the development and will also highlight shortcomings.

Therefore, he said that the review would help in improving government policies, interventions and mobilize multi-stakeholder support to develop much needed partnerships.