ISLAMABAD: World Bank says Pakistan’s greatest asset is its young population of 208 million, which can be transformed into a demographic dividend that drives economic growth.
In a new report launched here on Monday under the title: “Pakistan at Hundred: Shaping the Future”, World Bank said: “Pakistan can boost its economic performance and thereby ensure a better future for its people when the country turns 100 years old in 2047”.
Launching the report, World Bank Vice President for South Asia Hartwig Schafer said: “Pakistan urgently needs to invest more and better in its people if they are to be richer, better educated, and healthier”.
The report recommends essential reforms, which Pakistan needs to accelerate and sustain growth, including increasing and improving human capital investment, boosting productivity, promoting social and environmental sustainability, ensuring good governance, and leveraging its location to connect more with neighbours and the world beyond.
“Pakistan must act fast and strategically manage population growth and improve maternal health, besides improving early childhood development, focusing on nutrition and health and boost spending on education and skills for all.
“Because the next generation is meeting only 40 per cent of its potential it means that Pakistan is foregoing much of its economic growth, but this can change if women’s potential is unlocked. When women and girls are empowered to make their own decisions, they stay in school longer, they start families a little later, have fewer children, contribute more to the economy, and invest more in their children.
“There are steps Pakistan can take today to boost its economic performance and thereby ensure a better future for its people. These steps are ones that other countries have taken to open up their business sectors to competition and innovation and laying the foundations for growth, investment, and good jobs.”
The report also calls for reforms in other key areas, demanding steps to make it easier to do business in Pakistan as well as reforms to tax policy and administration to increase fiscal space and public investment in the country’s top priorities.
It says strong governance would be crucial to implementing a difficult set of reforms. The report discusses the key elements of a strong governance environment, including the need for a stronger civil service.
“Accelerating and sustaining Pakistan’s growth over a 30-year period is ambitious, but possible. Many other countries have achieved economic transformations within a generation with the right set of policies.
“The World Bank is committed to working with the government of Pakistan and other stakeholders in the country to advance the necessary reforms, so that Pakistan can significantly increase growth and sustain it, so it is an upper middle-income country by the time it celebrates its centenary.”