Political economy & socioeconomics Stay updated with Business News, Pakistan news, Current world news and latest world news with Business Recorder.. http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics.html Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:06:05 +0000 SRA Framework 2.0 en-gb MDGs: long way off from Pakistan http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics/12345-mdgs-long-way-off-from-pakistan.html http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics/12345-mdgs-long-way-off-from-pakistan.html

MDGIt won’t be too hard to guess that Pakistan is not on target to meet the Millennium Development Goals, aimed to be reached by 2015.

The World Bank’s recent Global Monitoring Report 2011 reiterates this view, though with a more optimistic stance than any average Pakistani might hold.

MDG goals focus on enhancing access to education, reducing gender disparity in education, eradicating poverty, improving maternal health and improving water and sanitation facilities.

Compared to its South Asian peers, – India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh – Pakistan is on target for only a few of the goals, while the others have managed to be on the road to achieving more targets than Pakistan. The star of the quad is Sri Lanka, which is on target for most of the goals.

Interestingly one of the very few goals that Pakistan is on target to meet, is poverty reduction. In this aspect the country has beaten regional peers, including Sri Lanka.

Ironically, while confirming Pakistan’s relative edge at poverty reduction versus India and Bangladesh, the latest Human Development Report 2010 (HDR) depicts Sri Lanka as faring quite better than Pakistan in terms of poverty.

According to the report, 14 percent of Sri Lankans live below $1.25 a day against 22.6 percent in Pakistan. Note that it was the United Nations which initiated the MDGs in 2000, and the United Nations Development Programme which issues the HDR.

On the other hand, while the WB’s MDG appraisal mentions the non-availability of data for Pakistan as far as completion of primary schooling for all children is concerned, it would be a no-brainer to conclude that the country is not on target.

Given that the primary enrollment ratio – percentage of primary-school going children – mentioned in the HDR is the lowest at 66 percent in Pakistan, compared to over 80 percent in its counterparts, Pakistan is far behind its peers in this area.

And the goal of bringing about gender parity in education has a similar tale to tell, with the percentage of girls to boys enrolled at the secondary level in schools less than that of India, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka at below 80 percent.

A comparison of maternal mortality ratio (per 100,000 live births) reveals Sri Lanka to be the only country of the four, to be on target to meet the goal of reducing the maternal mortality ratio by three-quarters. A look at the ratios mentioned in the HDR reveals that Pakistan’s maternal mortality ratio at 320 is lower than that of India’s and Bangladesh, both over 450.

But for the goal of reducing the under-five mortality rate (per 1000 births) by two-thirds, Pakistan is far from target, with Bangladesh being the only one of the four to be on target in this arena.

For the goals of halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and to sanitation, India and Sri Lanka alone are on target for the former, while only Sri Lanka is on target for amending its sanitation facilities.

Quite obviously, Pakistan is not on target for most of the goals. Though it’s close to them, the chances of achieving the intended goals by 2015 appear slim.

The WB highlights sound policies and institutions to be pivotal for achieving the MDGs since these are fundamental for effective service delivery to the poor. With Pakistan standing at the lower end of institutional strength, it’s not really hard to guess if MDGs will see the light of the day in Pakistan by 2015.

s.rs96@yahoo.com (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) Political economy & socioeconomics Mon, 25 Apr 2011 06:38:33 +0000
Two to tango http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics/12104-two-to-tango.html http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics/12104-two-to-tango.html

‘Reforms’ is perhaps one of the most resounding words in Pakistan these days. From drawing rooms to ‘chai-khanas’; from Islamabad to business hubs, this word is ringing bells everywhere -- with most participants passing the bucket to the government.

The government, no doubt, is responsible for providing basic amenities for the populace. But it is increasingly becoming evident, in the words of certain officials, that social contract between the government and the governed is breaking down.

“You don’t pay taxes because you don’t get government facilities, whereas the government can’t provide facilities because there aren’t enough taxes – it becomes a kind of a chicken and egg problem,” the official said, while referring to the vicious cycle.

Understandably, the government should take some confidence building initiatives, perhaps by ensuring improved transparency and lower corruption and then making incremental changes. But at the same time, the role of private sector in bringing about the reforms is equally important.

In a recent development, the State Bank of Pakistan also articulated this notion – though rather quietly and subtly. “This will require support from across the political divide and from other state and civil society institutions to ensure their smooth implementation,” wrote the central bank in its latest monetary policy statement.

This was the first time ever the SBP urged civil society to come forward and lobby for meaningful economic reforms as regards taxation, rationalisation of subsidies, debt management and allocation of resources.

“The civil society needs to be honest about the problems; because while the government or other official bodies may have a problem, the society cannot be exonerated”, the official commented on the role and responsibility of people.

Some civil society institutions, like the Pakistan chapter of Center for International Private Enterprise, are already making headlines with their efforts in this context.

In recent years, the CIPE has helped various associations, like the Pakistan Business Council and Pasha, form a collective business and economic agenda and recommend various reforms. Initiative like the upcoming youth entrepreneurship development in IT sector is another example.

Such endeavours, however, are few and far between -- and not because of civil society’s lack of capacity.

“They have the capacity; some of the outspoken representatives of the civil society held important positions in their times -- though it’s another issue that they didn’t do much when they were at the helm of affairs,” says Adil Gilani, Chairman, Transparency International Pakistan, while pointing to the lack of will in the private sector.

“Even up to 60-70 percent of the NGOs operating in Pakistan are corrupt,” Gilani added. In other words, the private sector could do well to stop, what Hammad Siddiqui, Senior Program Manager of CIPE, calls “the supply side of corruption”.

s.rs96@yahoo.com (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) Political economy & socioeconomics Fri, 22 Apr 2011 09:07:55 +0000
An eye for an eye? http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics/10158-an-eye-for-an-eye.html http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics/10158-an-eye-for-an-eye.html The issue of strike against extortion in Karachi is multifaceted – and it is increasingly becoming complex in the wake of the ‘political hijacking’ of the movement and the divide between the trade bodies.


Karachi, like several other big cities of past and present, has had a history of gang wars, and other types of crimes like kidnappings, protection money, and so forth. So yes, it makes sense to strive for the elimination of the same.


However, it should be kept in mind that there needs to be a tangible enemy. The object should be to avoid the war-on-terror fallacy, a phrase that doesn’t objectively pin point the culprit with clearly defined boundaries.


The effort, therefore, should be against extortionists, not extortion. And it’s no hidden secret who the real culprits are in Karachi – those who are suffering know fully well, though they don’t have the courage to say exactly who they are.


Similarly, those who are supposed to protect them from the suffering also have knowledge of the miscreants – except that their hands are reportedly tied due to political considerations.


The failure, therefore, is on the part of the city’s political parties in the government, MQM, PPP and ANP. Yet, as this newspaper earlier noted, “it is difficult to recall any significant attempt on the part of the government to stamp out the menace”.


At the same time, however, it is pertinent to note that two wrongs don’t make a right. Reportedly, several shops, including medical stores, and restaurants were forcibly shut down yesterday. In other words, the trade association, or the parties that have supported their movement, are extorting in a strike against extortion. Talk about insanity.


Moreover, while the 10-point charter of demands put forward by the KCCI covers a lot of important elements, the focus should be on getting some heads rolling if the government fails to make progress on anti-extortion front.


But, at the same time, it must also be borne in mind that this is an age-old issue in Karachi, and the government, even if turns puritan overnight, cannot be expected to change the course in a short span of 7-10 days.


The ways of making democracy work entail continuous and persistent efforts – not overnight outbursts of violence and strikes. The political parties, the governing administration and the traders should understand this notion soon.

smurtazag@hotmail.com (Syed Murtaza Gheblehzadeh) Political economy & socioeconomics Wed, 06 Apr 2011 04:52:08 +0000
Count on, for better policy decisions http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics/10033-count-on-for-better-policy-decisions.html http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics/10033-count-on-for-better-policy-decisions.html After a hiatus 13 years, the government is finally undertaking the gigantic task of putting an official figure to the number of heads vying for the scant resources of Pakistan.

The magnanimity of the task can be quite daunting. After all, many important policy decisions are based on this exercise until the next census takes place.

Simple as it may seem, what hold particular importance vis-à-vis this exercise are the policy implications that the census embodies. From the allocation of fiscal resources, to the distribution of social services, many policy decisions are based on the findings of the census.

“The census is important for many critical areas such as migration, education planning, distribution of public resources, etc. It provides a foundation for basing several policy decisions in the country, for example, the NFC Awards,” says Dr Asad Sayeed, Director at Collective for Social Science Research.

However, the key to extracting the juice out of the collected data is to use it in a strategic capacity, by analysing the implications of demographic trends for the overall economy and social growth of the country for at least another decade down the road.

For example, development economists agree that the direction of demographic change in Pakistan is towards a youth bulge in the country’s population. Likewise, policymakers need to ensure the provision of the impetus to output growth in the country to utilise the rising proportion of youngsters.

Similarly, the implications of a high dependency ratio in terms of a larger population of dependent children may point towards rising consumption and a reduction in saving and investment over time. This carries hints for future inflationary trends, and the country’s overall social security and stability, since crime may become a catharsis for the capable-but-frustrated, unemployed youth.

The findings of the census will be critical in formulating a policy suitable to these changing demographics.

Unfortunately, however, the conduct of the census is not fool proof in Pakistan. Besides the usual errors involved in survey and analysis, the compilation of census data is also mired with some political issues, said a renowned economist on condition of anonymity.

“Different groups want different figures for the population to be quoted as per their vested interests. However, this may not have a very sweeping effect on the results,” he said.

As the country marches on to enumerate the number of individuals, such are the policy dilemmas and issues that have to be borne in mind. A strategic vision for the planning and formulation of policies can be inculcated only through a 360-degree analysis of the census data.

smurtazag@hotmail.com (Syed Murtaza Gheblehzadeh) Political economy & socioeconomics Tue, 05 Apr 2011 05:58:28 +0000
Put the creative foot forward http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics/10032-put-the-creative-foot-forward.html http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics/10032-put-the-creative-foot-forward.html Leadership and creativity have some common traits: not everybody is good at it and those who are, are often envied, ridiculed, or despised for their guts. The biggest similarity, perhaps, is the debate on, whether leaders and creative folks are born – as in God-gifted – or made, is still on.

Yet, in the case of creativity, at least one thing is certain: once creative reserves are proven, its success can be amplified using the forces of market and infrastructural development.

The fact that Pakistan has a positive creative trade balance might surprise many (See graph). It also feels nice to know that the country’s creative exports total about 6.5 percent of total overseas sales.

But compare the numbers with peer economies, and the un-harnessed potential, and the smiles are wiped off. Take for instance, the recent report on creative economy released by the UNCTAD.

Titled, “Creative Economy: A Feasible Development Option”, the report reveals that Pakistan is the tenth biggest exporter of art crafts amongst developing economies. However, the country’s $253 million worth of annual art crafts sales in 2008 is dwarfed by $10.7 billion of export by China (which tops the list) and the average of $1.5 billion of the top 2-5 exporters.

A look at the break up of Pakistan’s creative exports shows that it’s dominated by carpets, tourism, and computer software industries – though these too are working way below their potential highlighted in several studies.

The rest of the creative trade potential, for example in furniture, handicrafts, indigenous music, paintings and photography, archaeology, heritage, arts, media, functional creations, etc. are not being effectively developed.

The Planning Commission has presented a well-crafted plan in this context. Drawing lessons from the region, the Planning Commission has laid focus on the soft aspects of growth, which includes the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship, and market development.

It also rightly emphasizes the development of clusters of Creative Cities. “Creative cities enhance individual and collective productivity through exchange of ideas and easy access to information,” the Commission’s draft plan said in January.

While it also highlighted the need for education, training, and skill development, it didn’t specifically highlight the need to foster cultural industries. The next move, therefore, should be to come up with the specifics.

For instance, there is a need to boost tourism, both in the country’s north and the archeological tourism in the centre and the south. Similarly, cities and parks should be built around different kinds of Pakistan’s unique marketable elements like handcrafts, carpet, furniture, gems and so forth.

Likewise, players from the country’s traditional music scene have to be brought to the limelight; who knows how many Abida Perveens, Pathanay Khans and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khans are still unexplored.

For those obsessed with the brick and mortar and the tangibles, this may not be a top priority issue to be resolved. And their view makes sense, considering that creative exports are never the mainstay of any economy.  But let them be reminded that the biggest return from creative exports is not dollars: it is ‘positive image’ – one that is the most missing element of the country.

smurtazag@hotmail.com (Syed Murtaza Gheblehzadeh) Political economy & socioeconomics Tue, 05 Apr 2011 05:45:34 +0000
Celebrate aid-dependency? http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics/9656-celebrate-aid-dependency.html http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics/9656-celebrate-aid-dependency.html

Many might look at the $650 million and $125 million loans approved by the Asian Development Bank and World Bank through rose-tinted glasses. After all, they’re an extra brace on the crutches of fiscally-limped Pakistan. At least, so it seems.

But the hitches and ‘ifs and buts’ attached to such loans is what makes one revisit the apparent idealism in such assistance.

Reconstruction of roads, bridges, irrigation systems, etc. with the help of ADB loans may appear quite tempting, as do the cash grants provided by WB, but there is a question mark on whether these will be disbursed in due time.

Even though Salman Shah, former Finance Minister, cautioned that the disbursement of loans from the World Bank will be undertaken after approval from the IMF, he was also hopeful of the situation. “Since these are special expenditures for a cause, I don’t think the IMF should object because this is a humanitarian cause,” he said.

Concerns abound regarding the timeliness of disbursements the repercussions can be significant on the domestic economy. “If external financing is not provided in time, authorities have to reply on domestic sources, and in Pakistan’s case, this has largely been borrowings from the State Bank. This has a significant inflationary impact,” said Dr Ashfaque Hasan Khan, Director General & Dean NUST Business School.

If the past is anything to go by, the disbursement of loans from international donor organisations have not been very prompt.

According to a publication on the Pakistan Earthquake 2005 by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), a Livelihood Cash Grant Scheme was initiated by the World Bank (WB) to distribute Rs3,000 per month for six months amongst 250,000 affected households. Against the pledged Rs8 billion for the scheme, Rs2 billion had been disbursed within a year, while further disbursements were still in progress, the IPRI highlighted.

Yet, local media sources also claimed that over 70 percent of the $870 million pledged by the WB for earthquake-related support had been disbursed in about a year.

Further, the ADB website also claims that, “Pakistan has received more than $20 billion in loans since joining ADB in 1966, with more than $15 billion disbursed as of 31 December 2009,” indicating that a majority of the committed assistance does reach Pakistan, albeit, perhaps, not promptly enough for the country’s requirement.

Aside from international organisations, timekeeping ado, the capability of local authorities also leaves a lot to be desired. “If media reports about the government’s inadequate relief efforts for the affected area are true, it reflects poorly on its management abilities,” said Shah. “Having local governments with proper systems for every district could have helped at this point in time,” he added.

But more pertinent than all this is the subject of whether loans for rehabilitation will actually do good for the country or do they bring yet another bundle of derived problems?

Khan believes the latter to be the case. Emphasizing that the authorities could have extracted needed expenditures for flood rehabilitation from the FY10 budget, he said that measures such as earlier imposition of the flood surcharge, creating a leaner ministerial structure, using a portion of funds allocated for the IDPs of NWFP, etc could have helped finance the relief and reconstruction costs.

“Even funds allocated by provincial governments for the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) could have been diverted for post-floods rehabilitation work, especially since a significant part of PSDP funds are underutilised because of capacity limitations. But we preferred debt amongst all options,” Khan lamented.

Given the persistent fiscal pressures, more debt and consequent debt-servicing, even on soft terms, may become back-breaking for Pakistan. Yet, as Khan said, “The officials don’t have to repay the debt from their own pockets; they may remain indifferent.”


s.rs96@yahoo.com (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) Political economy & socioeconomics Fri, 01 Apr 2011 07:18:53 +0000
EU concessions: Where are the lobbyists? http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics/9366-eu-concessions-where-are-the-lobbyists-.html http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics/9366-eu-concessions-where-are-the-lobbyists-.html

In the context of Pakistan’s trade relations, two recent developments stand out. One spells hope, the other raises concerns.

Recall that the lobby of Turkish denim manufacturers had pushed its government to enhance the duty on Pakistani fabric from 6.5 percent to 34.5 percent – an increase of 28 percent – which in the words of Mirza Ikhtiar Baig, advisor to prime minister on textile, “would have virtually seized exports to Turkey”.

Well, after weeks of efforts, the additional duty has now come down to 18 percent. While this may still cause trouble for local denim fabric makers, it will be less than what would have been caused had the increase in duty been 28 percent.

Interestingly, this small success in the Turkish deal came on the back of Pakistan Denim Manufacturers and Exporter Association’s collective action. According to Baig, the association pooled in resources to hire a trade lawyer in Turkey for €18, 000, who presented Pakistan’s case immaculately, and, therefore, was helpful in getting the duty lowered.

This was the hope part – that Pakistani businessmen are making collective decisions, not for individual benefits from the local government, but for the country at large. The cause for concern is that despite the payment of €28, 000 to trade lawyers, EU trade concessions to Pakistan were blocked in the WTO round.

WTO negotiations are, indeed, tricky; they require the understanding of complex trade laws, effective presentation, lobbyism, so and so forth.  So if one round has failed, it doesn’t mean that the government has failed. And even if the government fails in getting the concessions in time, it would not only be a failure of this government but of preceding governments as well.

“All across the world, market access experts are given positions for 20 years; in India people have been sitting there for 20 years, because it’s a specialised field, and then working for so long they become friends with each other, and so they can lobby better,” Bashir Mohammed, Chairman Gul Ahmed Textile Mills, told BR Research in an interview published in BR’s recently released Industry Review.

Baig somewhat agrees with this notion. “India hires top-quality WTO retirees from Brussels, whereas we are poor in trade lobbyism. We get up too late and too slow,” he said.


Still, just because Pakistan has missed out in the last many years does not mean that there isn’t a solution for the EU trade relief. That solution lies in making the allies understand Pakistan’s importance and the cost it is paying for playing the role in the war against terror.

“The allies are not willing to give us anything back, except for aid money. Money doesn’t solve our problems. Our problems will be solved by job creation,” said Bashir, “The US has given zero duty to 80 countries, but it somehow thinks that one more to Pakistan will hurt it”.

Bashir urges the government to present Pakistan’s case properly. “The government should say that unless you give us trade access, we will not survive,” he said, adding that there is an imminent need to upgrade trade negotiation skills of Pakistani officials.

The government, therefore, needs to form a special committee to work on the EU trade concessions and let the private sector steer it. Letting the government lead the committee could prove futile because the secretary gets changed every year and that breaks the momentum.

Specifically in US’s case, for example, one way to expand Pakistan’s outreach beyond the US administration is to target key US senators and congressmen. To pursue legislation, the government should explore collaboration with the US Members of Congress from those states which have the largest number of Pakistan's apparel clients.

“Allowing Pakistan to export its textiles more easily should be as much a part of US policy as launching drones and cruise missiles,” Richard N. Haass, Ppresident of the Council on Foreign Relations – a top US think tank – wrote in Newsweek early last year. This shows that the appreciation of the problem already exists in the US – what is needed is effective lobbyism.

As for clinching the more immediate EU deal, perhaps PM Gilani should try playing some cricket diplomacy, when he meets his counterpart today. India, that has played a major role in getting the EU deal blocked in the WTO, should be made to realise that for Pakistan, trade access means more jobs. And more jobs can potentially arrest the growth of terrorism – a curse from which India can not escape if it outbreaks.

s.rs96@yahoo.com (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) Political economy & socioeconomics Wed, 30 Mar 2011 06:57:29 +0000
Bombed economy http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics/6925-bombed-economy-.html http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics/6925-bombed-economy-.html

After a short-lived cease fire, the terrorists, the suicide bombings and the drone attacks are back in business.  The dilemma is growing stronger with every passing day as the one Pakistan fights for and the one it fights with; both are continuing with their rampage – badly hurting the country’s image, identity, sovereignty and economy.

The Social Policy and Development Centre (SPDC) recently published a report on Social Development in Pakistan citing the security related problem as the single biggest hurdle for Pakistan towards achieving economic prosperity. The report states that the security breakdown creates a vicious circle that triggers economic crisis as well as political instability and governance failure.

The griping security crisis in Pakistan results in higher transaction costs, diversion of resources from productive uses and loss of life, property and investment to trigger an economic collapse. This in turn reduces the efficacy of economic management, which brings in poor governance. Moreover, the loss of government’s credibility and international standing also have a say in weakening the political system, hence, contributing more toward economic woes.

Keeping the economic indicators aside which have been on a steep decline of late, the qualitative governance indicators do not show a bright picture either.

Pakistan lags miserably behind the worldwide governance indicators with all the regional players having a score in the negative zone when it comes to the rule of law, political stability, corruption control, government effectiveness etc – all of which are directly or indirectly related to the persisting security problems in Pakistan.

The recent Pakistan-US riff over the Raymond Davis issue is all set to worsen the scenario for Pakistan – both from the economic and governance perspective. It is not to say that America’s contribution in the war on terror, other than the drone attacks, has been substantial. It has indeed been paltry when compared to the costs, direct and indirect combined, incurred by Pakistan ever since the beginning of the war on terror.

The official numbers state that the war had cost Pakistan nearly $43 billion, majority of which comes under the indirect costs. And worse still, according to SPDC’s research, the cost in FY10 alone more-than-doubled to Rs840 billion from Rs380 billion in FY08.

In contrast, the bilateral assistance form the US has been significantly low to cover the total costs, as the ratio of costs/US bilateral assistance stood at 2.8X in FY10, which means that Pakistan has to bear more than two-third of the total cost.

And that naturally has its impact on the way the economy is run. The dire situation can be gauged from the fact that the investment growth nosedived to negative 3.5 percent in FY10, a major decline when compared to the 40 percent investment growth witnessed in FY06.  Of course, a lot of factors have contributed to the dismal show, but nothing more than the country’s perceived image and the deteriorating security situation – something which is not even accounted for, in the indirect costs to the war.

There seems to be no immediate solution to this bleeding as the defense expenditures continue to eat nearly one-third of the current expenditure pie – coming at the cost of economic affairs, health and education. Pakistan, in this situation, can best hope for the US to increase the bilateral assistance and refrain from drone attacks – without which, there seems to be no end to the problem.

s.rs96@yahoo.com (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) Political economy & socioeconomics Mon, 14 Mar 2011 06:32:53 +0000
We don’t need ‘no-education’ http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics/6404-we-dont-need-no-education.html http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics/6404-we-dont-need-no-education.html

Pakistani policymakers are renowned for slipping some significant policy issues under the carpet. Be it the implementation of RGST, issues of sick SOEs, or more pressing development issues such as education.

The Pakistan Education Task Force (PEFT) draws attention to the dearth of quality education in its aesthetically appealing report titled ‘Education Emergency Pakistan’.

Highlighting the pitiable state of affairs in the education arena (7 million children deprived of primary education in the country, a less-than-adequate percentage of GDP spent on the necessity, and a paltry 30 percent enrollment in secondary school), the reports knocks down a common myth amongst many – that parents, particularly in rural areas, are indifferent towards education.

Rather, with only 4 percent of those whose children are not in school saying there is ‘no use for education’, the demand for education in Pakistan appears quite strong.

And they’re willing to loosen up their wallets for that too – not just urban parents, by the way. According to the report, an average rural family, with a minimum of four children, spends 13 percent of its income on public education, or “20 percent if they have made the choice to educate privately”.

But are the parents receiving their money’s worth? Doesn’t seem so, especially considering that 65 percent of parents consider teaching as the key determinant of quality.

STEP (Strengthening Teacher Education in Pakistan) – a project undertaken by UNESCO and USAID for the professional development of teachers in Pakistan – says that 26 percent of the teachers in Pakistan are untrained, while 44 percent are least qualified (non-degreed, certificate holders), highlighting the deplorable state of the quality of teaching in the country.

Rural areas are particularly far at the receiving end, with a significantly lower percentage of teachers serving at the secondary and tertiary levels of education compared to urban areas.

Ironically, even though the number of teachers in rural areas is greater than that in urban areas, particularly at the primary level, nearly 2/3rd of rural children between 6-16 years cannot read a story.

It’s not that remuneration for teachers is particularly low either. The PEFT says, “A teacher in a government school earns 4.5 times as much as the average per capita household income for Pakistan.”

The reasons for the poor quality of education are many – from teacher absenteeism, which can be as appalling as 15-20 percent on a given day, to incompetent methods of teaching, such as rote learning from textbooks, and lack of training, as pointed out earlier.

To establish a sound education system, the quality of teaching has to be resurrected, and teacher development is one of the basics for that.

Every Tom, Dick and Harry cant be given such a grave responsibility of educating the masses, more efforts towards training and stringent qualification standards for teachers are required.


s.rs96@yahoo.com (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) Political economy & socioeconomics Thu, 10 Mar 2011 05:32:00 +0000
Employed illiteracy http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics/6403-employed-illiteracy.html http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-research/pakistan-macroeconomics/political-economy-a-socioeconomics/6403-employed-illiteracy.html

Providing employment to the youth may not be the best-selling mantra for the politicians, come the next elections, as there is hardly any room for more employment in Pakistan. The country is brimming with 94.4 percent employment rate. Yes – you heard it right – only 3 million people amongst the labour force in Pakistan are unemployed.

At least, that is what the recently released Labour Force Survey 2009-10 shows, putting Pakistan well ahead of the likes of USA, UK and Norway when it comes to employment rates. True that unemployment has increased by a single decimal point, but that is negligible as the absolute increase is still in line with the population growth rate of 2 percent per annum.

Don’t be fooled folks – have a closer look. And that look does not reveal a promising picture as the employment numbers seem to be overly inflated by ‘unpaid family workers’ who are described as those who work without pay in cash or in kind for an enterprise operated by a family member or somebody related.

And they constitute a huge 29 percent of the total employed workforce – take the chunk out and Pakistan would be reeling at the bottom of the list of employment rate. It is not necessarily a flaw in methodology, but it does depict a misleading picture as the unpaid workers are contributing towards production but getting nothing in reward.

Outside agriculture, which accounts for 45 percent of the employed force, a significant 73 percent is employed in the informal sector. That is not a bad thing in itself, but in hindsight, it depicts the abysmally low tax-GDP ratio of Pakistan. Farming income is not taxed – which takes out 45 percent of the employed workforce.

Then comes the informal sector, which is largely undocumented and hence not taxed – that takes out another major chunk off the tax net. No wonder, Pakistan‘s GDP ratio is as low as it is today.

Then are the literacy numbers – for a country having such low unemployment rate – a mere 58 percent literacy rate is an anomaly. This also gives Pakistan 163rd rank amongst all countries – hardly something to be proud of. Even more disturbing is the fact, that nearly 38 percent of the ‘literates’ are not even ‘metric-pass’.

No wonder the informal sector and the unskilled labour force continue to dominate the charts – and hence lower income levels. Pakistan’s demographic potential is so often talked about, but it is of no help if the literacy rate continues to be as dismal as it has been for decades. It is fitting that the country remains in trouble, when only 4 percent have the right to go to the parliament.

s.rs96@yahoo.com (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) Political economy & socioeconomics Thu, 10 Mar 2011 05:25:57 +0000