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December 7, 2018

‘Unemployment ratio reaches nine percent’


December 7, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s unemployment ratio stands at nine percent as against the official claim of six percent, showing a potential Arab Spring-like movement threat if required jobs are not created, a think-tank founder said on Thursday.

Hafiz Pasha of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) said educated youth are mostly not getting jobs and more than seven million youth are idle in the country. Pakistan would have to ensure export-led growth, improve efficiency and productivity of agriculture sector and revise free trade agreement with China for fixing the problem of rising current account deficit.

“Without diversification of exports, Pakistan will have to go back to the IMF (International Monetary Fund) on frequent basis,” Pasha, who has been former finance minister, said addressing a conference.

Pasha said the economy witnessed boom and bust cycle as the country achieved growth rate of average three percent in decade of 50s, 7.5 percent in 60s, 4.5 percent in 70s and 6.5 percent in 80s. The growth trajectory remained in the range of 4.5 to 5 percent in decade of 90s.

Growth, he said, jumped to 6.5 to 7 percent during the military rule under Musharraf regime but it fell below three percent from 2008 to 2013 and then it recovered during the last five year.

Last government brought 11,000 megawatts into national grid that ended load shedding.

Pasha said when the growth momentum picked up and it crossed the 5.5 percent mark the twin deficits re-appeared because of country’s lack of export growth.

Export to GDP ratio in India and Bangladesh was in the similar range of Pakistan in 2000, but it went up by six folds in case of India in last 18 years and Bangladesh exports tripled. Pakistani exports could not get quantum leap.

Pasha said growth remained on higher side but inequality increased during the Musharraf rule while growth remained lower during the democratic rules from 2008 to 2018 but inequality decreased.

Ministry of Finance’s Director General Economic Reform Unit Khaqan Najeeb said the policymaking side remains weak in Pakistan and the country requires managerial effort to rectify its policy, regulatory and operational sides.

“All sectors must move in tandem for achieving the desired results.” Najeeb said more than two million jobs are likely to be created in housing sector. “We need to graduate people to make them entrepreneurs rather than to feed them with income support program.”

Rolf Paasch, resident director of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung is critical of the government canceling registration of international non-government organisations.

“It might be possible that I might not be standing in front of all of you next year at this same conference,” Paasch said.

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