Production static

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LAHORE: Pakistan will face shortages over the next five years ranging from energy and power to daily-use essential items and consumer goods because consumers are increasing while production is stagnant due to skewed policies of successive governments. Technology Upgradation and Skill Development Company s former chairman Almas Hyder gave the warning in his presentation on the state of economy to the Lahore Economic Journalists Association. He said Pakistan s demography was both a challenge and opportunity as 11.5 per cent of its population was between the ages of 15 to 19 years. That meant that 20 million people at the rate of four million per annum would join the workforce in the next five years. He said the percentage of people in the age group of 55 to 59, who were likely to retire in five years, was 2.4, showing that after absorbing existing jobs around 3.6 million additional vacancies would be needed. With present productivity, we will not be able to produce things they
will be needed because the population in this age group is the prime consumer as well. Regular investment is needed to cater to the needs of new consumers, he added. Unfortunately, he said, growth in Pakistan was determined by concessions provided by the government in the annual budget. He regretted there was no industrial policy and suggested that ideally there should be an economic policy statement and the annual budget should follow its objectives. He said the world over ups and downs in growth were even but in Pakistan it had been uneven because the growth was not determined by policies but by the annual budget. He said rapid industrialisation during the Ayub era came because of a prudent industrial policy accompanied with a solid strategy for skill development. At that time, technical education accounted for 13 per cent of the education budget. Today, it is only 3 per cent. Massive untrained workforce had created a large pool of unemployed which was on the rise, he added. He said Bhutto in the 70s severed the link between effort and reward, adding governments since then increased minimum wage arbitrarily without merit. Workers with lowest productivity got guaranteed raise and that squeezed resources of entrepreneurs to reward efficient workers adequately, he pointed out.
We as a nation now want reward without effort. He said labour laws in the country were very stringent and employers were very cautious about enhancing the workforce because of rigid rules of firing an inefficient and incompetent worker. Almas Hyder said constraints to growth were due to inadequate infrastructure. Our planners think small. Lahore airport built recently has only seven bays. If the economy booms, it will not be able to handle air traffic. He said there was energy shortage, adding expensive energy was better than no energy at all. He said inflation though tamed was still in double digits as the government by squeezing the supply side was further fuelling price hike. Regular rupee depreciation was a penalty on domestic industries and consumers. The former chairman of TUSDEC said economy should dictate foreign policy. There are few positives and numerous negatives of donor support that we are getting. We need trade, not aid. Trade will create jobs. He said industrial planning should be the job of provincial and district governments who should map industries in each district and provide infrastructure and facilities accordingly. He said competence was as big an issue as corruption. Pakistan, he added, was still a low-cost producer of goods and services along with China and India but had not been able to exploit the advantage like the other two. He said the country should think beyond textile which accounted for only 5.6 per cent of global trade. Attention should be given to growing industries like engineering, chemical, information technology, pharmaceutical, biotechnology and livestock.

Courtesy : The News


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