The State of Pakistan’s Labour Force

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The Legatum Prosperity Index by the Legatum Institute offers a unique insight into how prosperity has evolved in the past decade across the world. The index is based on statistics from different socio-economic sectors like governance and economy. It uses a wide variety of diverse factors to measure prosperity in a given country. Employment-related statistics constitute an important part of the index which shows that the overall prosperity of a country depends on employment levels and social security.

The index offers a snapshot of Pakistan’s progress on the employment front. In the past decade, several factors like female labour force participation and percentage share of white-collar jobs and salaried workers have increased. However, unemployment is also on the rise as the country’s population continues to increase exponentially. A glance at the statistics shows that there is plenty of room for improvement in the area.

Exchange Rate Trend

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Pakistan’s currency leapt against the US dollar after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a 1 billion USD loan as part of a bailout package to Pakistan. The rupee rose by 89 paisas in the inter-bank which was the biggest single-day gain since December 31st. According to the Federal Minister for Finances and Revenue Shaukat Tarin, Pakistan met several conditions of the global lending organisation which led IMF into reviewing Pakistan’s 6 billion USD loan programme. IMF aims to reduce state spending, increase tax collection, and limit the control exercised by the State Bank of Pakistan.

In 2018, Pakistan resorted to the IMF in November to save the economy from 20 billion USD Current Account Deficit (CAD). The deficit could have pushed the new government into an acute crisis. However, the IMF bailout averted the crisis but sent ripples of inflation and distress throughout the economy. In addition, the government still managed to secure the 6 billion Extended Fund Facility in July 2019.

Global Peace Index

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The Global Peace Index report is a data-driven analysis of economic and social trends that promotes peace and prosperity. The GPI index is created by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) and it ranks 163 independent states and territories according to their level of peacefulness.

The index measures several indicators related to the numbers of deaths, terrorist activities, the militarization of the state and non-state actors in general. Pakistan has improved its rank on the index gradually due to the improvement in the country’s security situation. However, security experts and government officials believe that the situation in Afghanistan and the consequent regime change can invite turbulence in the security of the country.

Environmental Performance Index

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The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) uses 32 performance indicators, spread across 11 areas to rank the environmental performance of 180 countries. The EPI is a holistic metric of evaluating how countries have established environmental policy targets. The EPI has a scorecard that measures the policy efforts and the value it adds to the environment. It also provides practical guidance for countries that aspire for a greener and more sustainable future.

Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries to the risks of climate change. The effects of climate change can wreak havoc on people’s lives and livelihoods and increase the chances of climate-related catastrophes like floods and hurricanes.  Pakistan ranks 169 out of 180 on the index.

Safe Cities Index

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The Safe Cities Index measures digital health, infrastructure, personal and environmental security in a city. The index uses input and output-based data on 76 indicators spread across several inter-connected areas. According to its recent report, Karachi, the business and trading capital of Pakistan, has been ranked as one of the least safe cities to live in. Experts claim that the city’s rapidly deteriorating health, lack of urban transportation, turbulent security, and rising climate change contribute to its low ranking on the index.

Karachi and Mumbai, rank 48 and 50, respectively. The index was topped by Copenhagen, Toronto, Singapore, Sydney, and Tokyo.

Pakistan’s Performance on the Internet Residence Index

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The internet network residence index measures the degree of readiness of countries to avail opportunities offered by information and communication technology. Since it is a multi-dimensional concept, it measures several metrics in technology, governance, people, and impact. Technology is at the centre of networking, and therefore this indicator measures the level of technology required for the country’s participation in the global economy. The second pillar is population and access to digital resources and skills to use it productively. Governance of the network is vital for effective regulation and to ensure digital inclusion of all segments of society. The fourth pillar is a network economy’s impact on the region’s overall growth, prosperity, and well-being.

In its recent report, Pakistan improved its ranking on the index, observing an increase of 14 points. Previously, Pakistan’s ranking was 111, which has recently increased to 97 this year.

The improvement in rank has been due to increased internet subscribers and new technologies. The government claims that the recent allocation of government funds to the Universal Service Fund (USF) projects for high-speed internet services and contrasts for next-generation broadband have contributed to the country’s improving rank on the index.

Index of Economic Freedom

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Economic Freedom gives an individual the liberty to control his or her labour and property. Individuals have the right to work, produce, consume, and invest as they please. Thus, the index of economic freedom measures the capacity of an economy to practice free-market principles and liberty. The index covers twelve different areas of the economy, ranging from property rights to financial freedom across 184 countries.

The index measures the rule of law, which includes property rights, government integrity, and judicial effectiveness in carrying out economic and social justice. Government is an area that measures public sector spending, tax burden and fiscal health of the economy. The regulatory environment is also central to maintaining economic freedom, including freedom of business, trade, and investment.

Pakistan ranks 158 out of 184 on this index. Pakistan has made strides in some areas included in the index. However, performance in others has stagnated. The country needs to reform its current economic principles to increase economic freedom and liberty for its people.

Climate-Smart Innovation in Agriculture

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Pakistan derives several exports like cotton, textiles, and industrial raw material from its agricultural sector. The sector contributes 19% to the country’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Despite its massive economic significance, the agricultural practices remain outdated as farmers and landlords continue to employ primitive methods of farming and agriculture.

Pakistan’s current agricultural productivity remains stagnant at unacceptable levels. Besides this, the emerging threat of climate change affects the agricultural sector from different angles adversely.

According to a new World Bank report, repurposing current agricultural public policies can deliver several strategic benefits for the sector, the economy overall, and the people. The report titled Repurposing Agricultural Policies and Support: Options to Transform Agriculture and Food Systems for Better Health of People, Economies and Health revealed that investing in climate-smart innovations can increase agricultural productivity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the report, such practices could reduce agricultural emissions by 40% and restore natural habitat in 105 million hectares of agricultural land. This can also bring down the cost of nutritious foods. The agricultural sector can achieve this by implementing policies that prioritise and incentivise green investments.

Cost of Housing Projects for Governmnet Employees

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Prime Minister Imran Khan recently launched a housing project for government employees and the salaried classes under the Naya Pakistan Housing Program (NPHP). The project includes the construction of 88,000 housing units in apartments with a total cost of Rs 6.5 billion. As of now, 588 grey-structure housing units and 88 commercial units have been completed.
Under the housing program dedicated to government employees, housing finance options such as subsidised mortgages will also be provided to potential homeowners. This will increase the share of low-income housing finance loans and consequently increase homeownership amongst low and middle-income families.
Construction is a key player in the overall housing industry. In previous years, the incumbent government introduced several steps to give a boost to the construction industry by decreasing the cost of construction. However, the government needs to further invest in this sector to ensure the provision of affordable housing options to low and middle-income classes of the society.

Pakistan’s Road Network

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In Pakistan, travelling by road is one of the most important means of transportation for men and materials. The management, operations, and expansion of the road network fall under the ambit of the National Highway Authority (NHA). Currently, the length of the motorway network is stretched across 12,131 km, with the NHA continuously expanding the road network by taking up new projects. There are 32 ongoing projects with an allocation of Rs 88,954.855 million in PSDP for the year 2020-21. In addition, 24 more schemes are in the works with a total estimated cost of Rs 520,077.996 million.