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Opinion

Capital suggestion

May 6, 2018

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The defence budget

Myth number 1: Pakistan has a large military. Not true. There are at least 64 countries in the world that have more military personnel on a per capita basis than does Pakistan. They are: Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Russia, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Libya, Kuwait, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Israel, Estonia, Vietnam, Slovenia, Botswana, Mongolia, Yemen, Kazakhstan, Cuba, Mauritania, Croatia, Chile, Somalia, Albania, Sao tome and Principe, Namibia, Angola, Cambodia, Uruguay, Bolivia, Romania, Morocco, Lithuania, Portugal, Burma, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Burundi, Bulgaria, Columbia, Serbia and Montenegro, Cyprus, Greece, Armenia, Djibouti, Maldives, Oman, Belarus, Jordan, Syria, Laos, Bahrain, Brunei, Eretria and North Korea.

Lesson: A country’s prosperity does not depend on the size of its military. Look at Switzerland, for instance, a large military on a per capita basis but the average per capita income stands at $79,000. South Korea, Singapore, Italy, Turkey and Thailand are other examples (all have large militaries). For the record, on a per capita basis, Ghana has the smallest military in the world and yet the average per capita income in Ghana is $1,500. Other countries in this category are Burkina Faso, Haiti, Niger, Papua New Guinea and Gambia (all have small armies and poor economies).

Myth number 2: Pakistan spends too much on its military. Not true. There are at least 43 countries in the world which spend a higher percentage of their GDP on their militaries than does Pakistan. On a per capita basis, Pakistan spends $24.80 on defence. For the record, there are at least 87 countries which spend more than Pakistan’s allocation.

On a per capita basis, Israel spends $1,361 on defence and yet the per capita income stands at $37,500. Norway, for instance, spends $883 per capita on defence, while its per capita income is $70,800. Yes, Pakistan spends $24.80.

Lesson: A country’s prosperity does not necessarily depend on how much of its GDP is spent on defence. The US, for instance, spends a wholesome 4.3 percent of its GDP on defence and yet has a per capita income of $57,500. Other countries in this category are Singapore, China and South Korea. Israel spends 7.3 percent of its GDP on defence, while Pakistan spends half that much (and yet Israel is rich and Pakistan is poor).

Fact number 1: There are more than a hundred countries in the world which spend more on the health of their citizens than does Pakistan. The US spends $4,271 on health per citizen; Pakistan spends $18. Imagine Iran spends $128. Even Sri Lanka, Burma and Zambia spend more on health than Pakistan.

Fact number 2: Pakistan spends 1.8 percent of its GDP on education. This is the issue. Almost every country in the world spends more than Pakistan does. Cuba, for instance, spends 18.7 percent. I must repeat, this is the issue. Imagine, almost every country on the face of the plant spends more on education than we do.

Conclusion: Pakistan’s real problem is that it spends too little on education and health. And this is so because these two are not our government’s priorities. And because the government manages to accrue Rs1 trillion in circular debt. And because the government manages to lose Rs500 billion running Public Sector Enterprises (PIA, Railways etc). And an additional Rs400 billion on commodity operations. And the elephant in the room:Rs1.6 trillion interest on national debt.

Concluded

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @saleemfarrukh

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