LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that promotion of modern technology is essential for the rapid development of the country and the goal of progress and prosperity can be achieved by imparting modern knowledge to the young generation.

The chief minister was addressing inaugural ceremony of Innovation Punjab Website launched by Punjab Information Technology Board with the collaboration of Google Company at Arfa Karim Software Technology Park, on Thursday.

“Pakistan has excellent brains, innovative ideas and modern concepts however there is a need to give them a practical shape. It can be transformed in accordance with the ideals of Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal through hard work, honesty and commitment and by equipping the youth with the modern technology”, the chief minister added.

He said Punjab government was implementing a comprehensive programme for promoting information technology and huge investment had been made on the development of this sector.

The chief minister said launching of the first innovation policy of Punjab with the collaboration between Punjab Information Technology Board and Google Company was a good omen. He said the purpose of the innovation policy was provision of the best services to the citizens, ensuring their access to information, promotion of information technology for accelerating business activities and strengthening of economy.

He said he believed in socio-economic justice as it was essential for the development of a society. He said socio-economic justice could be ensured through innovation and Punjab government had taken a positive step in this direction by launching innovation policy. He said innovation policy would also help in empowerment of citizens, generation of job opportunities and strengthening of economy.

He said 1.25 lakh laptops were distributed among talented boy and girl students last year and an equal number of laptops would be given this year. He said Daanish Technology University was being set up in the province and the first campus of this university would start functioning at Arfa Karim Software Technology Park next month. He said Punjab government was working with Microsoft Company for the promotion of IT technology.

He said that the setting up of IT labs in more than four thousand schools of the province at a cost of Rs5 billion with the collaboration of various international companies had helped in promoting awareness in lakhs of students about the changing global trends and modern knowledge.

“Punjab government has introduced a unique and modern public transport system and information technology is being used in metro bus service project. The modern public transport system will result in the latest transport facilities to the citizens and economic revolution will be brought about in the country”, Shahbaz Sharif added.

He said air-conditioned buses were being plied in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan and Faisalabad for the benefit of citizens while this project would be extended to other cities of the province as well. The chief minister appreciated the efforts of Information Technology Board Chairman Dr Umer Saif for the promotion of information technology in the province and introduction of IT projects in the government institutions.

Earlier the chief minister formally inaugurated Punjab Website (innovation.gov.pk). He also distributed shields among innovators. William Fritz Gerald of Google Company, Chairman Punjab Information Technology Board Dr Umer Saif, President Pakistan Software Housing Association Jehan Ara and a large number of IT experts were also present on the occasion. 

MOU INKED: Meanwhile, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Punjab government and International Finance Corporation (IFC), a subsidiary organization of the World Bank, was signed on Thursday, at Arfa Karim Software Technology Park, for promoting public-private partnership in the province.

The MoU was signed by Member Planning & Development (Public-Private Partnership) Dr Arshad Mehmood on behalf of Punjab government while Moazam Macan signed on behalf of IFC. Shahbaz Sharif was the chief guest on the occasion. Advisor Mansha Ullah Butt, Secretary Food and other concerned officials were also present.

Under the MoU, IFC would provide technical, financial and legal assistance, along with providing consultative services in the identification, preparation and implementation of projects in various sectors.

Earlier, talking to the delegation of IFC, the chief minister said Punjab government was incentivising public-private partnership in the province, while the public-private partnership cell set up by the govt was monitoring stocks of grain  relating to sectors of communication, transport and livestock.