Pakistan’s Economic Growth

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has projected a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 4% for Pakistan in the fiscal year 2022. According to the ADB Outlook 2021, the growth statistics observed a recovery in private investment as consumer confidence reaches pre-pandemic levels. The ongoing vaccination rollout and the multiple economic stimulus packages introduced by governments has helped economies restore economic activities to pre-pandemic levels. In Pakistan, the investment levels gradually increase with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) support stabilization program strengthening the country’s forex reserves.

The ADB outlook report 2022 highlights Pakistan’s Agricultural Transformation Plan to achieve food security for a growing population by encouraging the use of water-efficient practices, post-harvest storage facilities, the establishment of food processing plants, and the Kissan card scheme, which is a digital wallet for farmers and small agricultural investors. Apart from the Agriculture Transformation Plan, the government also launched the construction amnesty scheme last year to boost economic activity in the real estate and allied industries.

Karachi Coastal Developmental Zone

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Under the Karachi Coastal Development Plan, Karachi has been included in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to bring the city at par with the most developed cities in the world. The initiative to include the port city of Karachi in CPEC has been lauded as strategic by Prime Minister Imran Khan, as it will present opportunities for investors and develop 20,000 low-income housing units for locals. Therefore, driving local economic growth and development side by side.

According to Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs, Ali Zaidi, the project will be executed using direct Chinese investments under CPEC. Under the Karachi Coastal Development Plan, the project is worth 3.5 billion USD. The project aims to renovate Karachi’s seaboard with new berths for the port, a new fishery port and a harbour bridge that will connect the port with Manora Islands and Sandspit beach.

The Karachi Coastal Comprehensive Development Zone (KCCDZ) is stretched across 640 hectares on the western marshland of the Karachi Port Trust (KPT). Under the new plan, the KCCDZ will also revamp one of the oldest city slums of Karachi, Machar Colony and relocate its half-a-million population.

Pakistan on E-Government Development Index

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Pakistan is ranked 153rd amongst 193 countries in the UN E-Government Development Index (EDGI) report. In comparison to the previous report released in 2018, there is a decline in the country’s ranking from 148th to 153rd. This warrants a closer evaluation of Pakistan’s digital transformation and the various governance areas that can be affected.

Initially, the UN EDGI was responsible for solely tracking e-government development, but now it includes other indicators like online service condition (OSI), Human Capital Index (HCI) and telecommunication infrastructure (TII). Using these indicators, UN-EDGI measures e-government development and ranks UN member countries. A thorough analysis of the report can help policymakers in creating potential solutions that can enhance the use of technology in the government sector and citizen’s experience with it.

An overview of the report for Pakistan shows that the country’s declining rank is due to a fragmented approach towards adopting technology. A lack of telecommunication infrastructure, low affordability, and digital skills gap are the factors that contribute to the declining rank on the e-government development index. Moreover, cyber security threats, inability to deal with data privacy issues, limited citizen participation in the research process, all snowball and contribute towards a declining EDGI.

The report also suggests multiple ways Pakistan can use the experience of other countries as a benchmark to accelerate its digital government transformation. Potential solutions include developing a national digital government strategy, creation of an action plan, establishment of a centre of excellence for data analytics, and development of a common governance framework.