Development Priorities for Pakistan
Pakistan's Development Priorities
Pakistan is prone to the boom and bust cycles of economic growth. After every 4-5 years, the country finds itself tapped into the issue of balance of payments. The country exports have largely remained stagnant over the years which is considered to be the main reason for low foreign exchange earnings. There is a need to diversify the export base and export markets. Besides exports and remittances, experience of other countries suggests that international tourism plays a critical role in building up foreign exchange reserves. The current contribution of tourism to Pakistan's economy is estimated at 6.9 percent of GDP which is expected to double in a decade; however, the bulk of it is domestic tourism. International tourism is largely unexploited. This an area where Pakistan could generate additional foreign exchange earnings. This would certainly require further improvement in the security situation and tourism infrastructure in the country.
Youth and women are the key drivers of inclusive growth, but neither are optimally employed. Youth, which constitutes around 32 percent of the population, need skills and knowledge to be useful for the economy. The government should have a national youth internship programme where youth could get initial exposure to, and training in the skills required by the market. The skill development programmes need to be driven by the needs of the businesses. On-the-floor trainings have proven to be more effective than the standalone trainings using outdated curricula. Skills training through public-private partnerships tend to have a larger impact on employment creation. A govt alone [public] programme is bound to fail unless done in partnership with the industry/business.
Women constitute 49 percent of the population but they are merely 24 percent of the labor force. Pakistan is the only country in South Asia along with Afghanistan which has yet to achieve gender parity in primary education. Without the empowerment of women, we can neither achieve sustainable economic growth nor high level of human development. The government should introduce legislation to make it mandatory for both public and non-public organizations to maintain a certain level of quota for women in employment and other segments. Lack of mobility is one of the key constraints for women participation in economic and social sectors. The government should incentivize the provision of transport facilities to women and girls in both public and non-public sector organizations besides safeguards against violence in the work place.