Record allocation for youth in next budget: Durrani
* Workshop held for experts’ input on national youth policy
* Experts demand separation of health and education departments
ISLAMABAD: Muhammad Ali Durrani, mnister of state for sports, youth and culture, said on Saturday that the government would allocate a record amount for youth and culture in the next budget, though he did not give a date for announcing the national youth policy.
Mr Durrani was addressing the concluding session of the National Consultation Workshop on Pakistan’s Youth Policy and Plan of Action at a local hotel to receive input from various quarters before finalising the policy.
The workshop was attended by representatives of government organisations, non-government organisations and experts on various youth-related areas who had been invited from all over Pakistan. The minister said the policy document would be improved following input from the experts.
The new Youth Policy was to have been announced on December 25 last year by the minister. However, it was delayed till this year.
“The coming federal budget will be historic as far as the youth of the country is concerned. Our government realises that countries that want to develop have to focus on their youth,” he said.
The minister thanked Janis Bjornkanavin, ambassador of Norway, for his practical and financial support in preparing the policy document.
Mr Durrani said he had launched the policy initiative on the directives of President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to make the youth play an active part in the country’s progress and promote national harmony and cohesion in Pakistan.
“Both of them see Pakistan’s young men and women as a core national asset and key resource for our future leadership,” he said.
Earlier, summing up the outcome of the day’s discussion, a speaker said the participants of the workshop had made some recommendations and amendments to the proposed policy document.
One of the suggestions dealt with deciding the ‘youth’. The participants suggested that a ‘youth’ be defined as one aged between 13 and 29 years rather than the proposed 18 to 35 years.
It was also suggested that the gender gap between young men and women be minimised.
The experts recommended that the health and education departments be split. Concerns were also raised that stakeholders be defined clearly to check unnecessary government interference and that planned activities should not be restricted to big cities alone.
The experts also opposed setting up new infrastructure and recommended that the already available infrastructure be utilised. Sports Minister Ajmal Khan, federal sports secretary, Syed Jalil Abbas and Norwegian Ambassador Janis Bjorkananvin were present at the final session.