Punjab: Marching towards a welfare society


Abdul Rashid Shakir
[email protected]

The provision of credible social protection, quality education, universal healthcare and enabling environment for economic growth are among the hallmarks of a welfare society. Punjab Government, under the dynamic leadership of Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz Sharif, is striving hard to ensure the
availability of these basic needs of a decent living.

The installation of high-end safe city cameras in 21 major cities of the province is a move to ensure better maintenance of law & order and crime surveillance, in order to provide people a safe and peaceful living environment.

The establishment of Special Speedy Trial Courts in Punjab, and an attempt to end a culture of lying and false accusations through a proposed amendment in the defamation law are major Government steps to provide a sense of social security to people, especially the netizens. The construction of one lakh housing units for the low income people across Punjab is a step to instill a sense of social protection in the struggling classes.

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School education reforms in Punjab is very close to the Chief Minister’s heart, who has chaired multiple marathon meetings to devise a workable reforms package for ensuring free and better education to the students of around 49000 public sector schools across Punjab. This includes optimum utilization of educational infrastructure and outsourcing of some 13000 non-performing or ghost schools in the province to the private sector to enhance their productivity and utility for the local students. A plan to start providing tetra pack flavored milk to up to class 5 students of public sector schools to stem stunting and malnutrition in the younger lot, along with the establishment of computer labs and libraries in government schools are commendable Government interventions for the development of quality human resources in the province. The provision of 20,000 motorbikes to
students on interest-free easy monthly installments is another education-friendly initiative of the Government.

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Health sector reforms under “Healthy Punjab Programme” is an endeavor to provide state-of-the-art healthcare facilities to people in Punjab. The upgradation of 2500 Basic Health Units (BHUs) and 300 Rural Health Centers (RHCs) across Punjab is a step in the right direction. Punjab’s first proposed public sector Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Cancer Hospital in Lahore, Nawaz Sharif Cardiology Hospital in Sargodha, 32 field hospitals to provide healthcare facilities in remote areas, and a program of 200 Clinics on the wheels for the provision of treatment facilities to slum dwellers in the province are remarkable initiatives of the Government that will no doubt revolutionize healthcare system in the province.

Additionally, Madam Chief Minister is also focused on building three medical cities in South, Central and North Punjab.

The proposed launch of Air ambulance service in Punjab and the start of Rescue 1122 ambulance service on motorways are no doubt historic initiatives of the Government to ensure timely treatment of patients in case of any untoward accident in far-flung areas of the province.

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Provision of free quality medicines in government hospitals, and the proposed free delivery of medicines at patients’ doorsteps are other remarkable initiatives of the Government for the improvement of healthcare system in Punjab.

There is no denying the fact that secure environment, stable Government, continuity of economic policies, rapid transportation, easy communication and ease of doing business invoke investors’ confidence in the viability of any business venture, that may guarantee socio-economic uplift of the society. Keeping this thing in mind, Punjab Government fully subscribes to the decisions of Strategic
Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), a platform that provides a whole-of-the Government response to ensure ease of doing business to attract investors, both local and foreign.

Undoubtedly, the construction, repair and rehabilitation of around 600 roads, 5 expressways and 3 motorways in Punjab under “Sarkein Bahal…Punjab Khushhal Programme” reflects the Government’s commitment to provide an enabling environment to the business community to spur economic growth in the province.

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Moreover, the provision of province-wide mega solid waste management system and the improvement of water supply and drainage system under “Suthra Punjab (Clean Punjab);” the construction and repair of all major and minor roads of Lahore, pavement of streets, installation of tuff tiles, and restoration of 222,000 street lights across Lahore under “Naya Daur…Saaf Lahore (New Era…Clean
Lahore)” initiative, and the direction to make all water filtration plants of Lahore functional at the earliest are major steps for providing enabling environment for the socio-economic development of people in Punjab.

A proposed plan to launch a massive crackdown against electricity theft, hoarding and smuggling in the province through district level task forces and 600 dedicated Police teams is a milestone initiative to ensure stable supply of affordable electricity for the businesses to grow. A plan to provide interest-free loans to small farmers for buying farm inputs like seeds, fertilizer and pesticides, under the best-ever farmer cards, is another move to provide economic security to small farmers against unforeseen climate-induced weather shocks.

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To wrap up, we can hope that, with the newly-elected Government at the helm of affairs, the continuity of economic policies, a prerequisite of socio-economic development, can fairly be expected. It will, in turn, guarantee peace, stability, welfare and prosperity of the nation and people alike.