We thank you and the Bureau members for their contribution to make this session fruitful.
We appreciate the role of Department of Economic and Social Affairs under the leadership of Under Secretary General Sha Zukang for approaching this issue in an innovative, inclusive and open manner.
Pakistan aligns itself with the statement delivered by Algeria on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
Our discussions this week have lent important insights into national perspectives as well as common challenges to promoting productive capacity, employment and decent work. Employment has a symbiotic link with poverty eradication which is a sine qua non for inclusive, sustainable and equitable economic growth at all levels for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
With the number of unemployed in the world nearly 200 million, this debate is both timely and sobering. An explosive political issue, unemployment has massive social stability consequences. Youth are particularly hard-hit. The situation is rendered especially worrisome due to our collective inability to disencumber ourselves from economic policies that have brought about this pall of gloom.
There is no gainsaying the fact that business-as-usual is no longer an option. We need to reset our economic model to promote sustained, strong and inclusive economic growth as well as sustainable development.
68% of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 30. The labour force grows at 3% annually. Like other UN Member States, we face the formidable task of creating jobs and decent working conditions amidst multiple global crises.
Numerous difficulties notwithstanding, our policies have primarily focused on pro-poor economic growth. It is gratifying to note that deliberations in New York vindicate Pakistan’s National Decent Work Country Programme as being in sync with international priorities.
Centred on poverty elimination, Pakistan’s programme recognises the crucial linkage between growth and productive employment. It also addresses besides labour law reform; employment generation through human resource development, with a focus on employable skills; social protection expansion, including in the informal economy and; promotion of tripartite social dialogue.
We are also pursuing reforms which include: improving governance; good economic management; achieving broad-based economic growth; investing in and building human capital; bringing the poor and vulnerable into the mainstream of development and; focusing on empowerment of women, minorities, youth and disabled.
Two policy initiatives are particularly notable among the measures taken by the Government of Pakistan to promote productive capacity, employment and decent work:
First, we have made “Youth Development and Community Engagement” one of the pillars of economic growth. Steps have been taken to harness the capacities of youth through vocational and technical training programmes. We are also promoting public-private partnership in this area.
Second, Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) is a cash-transfer programme focusing on empowerment of women. Through this programme, female members of beneficiary families are given monthly income-supplement assistance in cash. BISP also provides for vocational training for one member of each beneficiary family and interest free loan for small business or self-employment. The programme also has education and health assistance components.
It bears repetition that positive policies do not make Pakistan immune to direct impact of natural and manmade disasters, global economic conditions as well as difficulties faced by skilled and employable Pakistanis in securing productive employment abroad. Pakistan believes that enhanced employment opportunities abroad for skilled and semi skilled labour dovetails into poverty eradication.
We also recognise that promotion of small and medium sized enterprises redounds to the benefit of job creation.
Furthermore, we stress the need to increase investments in productive capacities and address infrastructure gaps. Improving agricultural productivity and rural non-farm income opportunities are among our priorities.
Let me conclude by emphasising that sustaining employment is as important as generating it. Natural and manmade disasters should not provide us a pretext to abdicate our responsibilities. Policies should adapt and not succumb to circumstances. Unemployment is the virtual fountainhead of many of the travails that beset our world.
At a time when the world economy is facing multiple crises, ECOSOC must play a robust role as the central mechanism for coordination of the activities of the United Nations system in the economic, social and related fields. The Council must ensure that the coherence and strength of policy responses is commensurate with the complexity and magnitude of the multiple challenges. The United Nations should be in the driving seat and not the spectators’ gallery!