Economic woes our destiny

Dr Shujaat Mubarik

The writer is Professor and Associate Dean at Institute of Business Management (IoBM) Karachi.

Since independence, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has faced innumerable difficulties. However, one problem that still needs to be addressed today due to the governments’ continued apathy, is the economy. Every government laments the state of the economy but doesn’t take measures to improve the economy. The incumbent government also seems to be troubled by the economic problems in the country but isn’t taking practical steps to improve it. There are many sectors in Pakistan that are being deliberately ignored, which can revive the struggling economy.
It has been reiterated that agriculture is the backbone of Pakistan’s economy. Pakistan was self-sufficient in agricultural products and earned substantial foreign exchange by exporting food items to the subcontinent. The government completely neglected the agriculture sector. That’s the reason Pakistan is facing a massive decline in agricultural production and has to import many commodities from other countries while the volume of our exports is also declining.
Due to the investment of big politicians in the country’s sugar sector, the trend of increasing sugarcane cultivation by reducing cotton production is increasing in the country. Cotton export in Pakistan is now a thing of the past and nowadays, sugarcane crops are now flourishing. Sugarcane is relatively more expensive to grow than cotton and consumes more water. If cotton production is given priority over sugarcane, then Pakistan can control the economic woes to some extent by increasing exports.
The seed is also a major issue in Pakistan. Seeds from India are declining the quality of our cotton. Apparently, the seed issue also being deliberately ignored. Like the previous government, the incumbent government is not giving priority to the agriculture sector, which is why locusts have also become a major problem at the moment. The government has allocated Rs 2 billion for the eradication of locusts, which shows the lack of seriousness of the government. No clear strategy is being devised for making things better.
Investing in human beings in Pakistan is still a mystery. Pakistan currently consists of 66 percent of youth and the government has no policy in this regard. When you apply for a work visa abroad, you are given a form in which the choice of field is very important. Because each government first decides how many people are needed in which sector, then the list is prepared. But in Pakistan, the governments have never paid attention to this issue and it is very unfortunate that even today the government does not know how many skilled people are needed in which sector.
Mostly young people in Pakistan don’t know what to choose as their career. The government should guide the youth regarding the areas in which we need manpower so that the youth can move towards those sectors. But due to lack of guidance from the government, the youth turn to a specific sector which leads to an increase in the unemployment rate.
The information technology sector in Pakistan is also suffering from the government’s ignorance. The government is committed to moving towards a digital Pakistan, on the other hand, the government doesn’t have a viable strategy for the IT industry.  Those who sell their software globally face numerous challenges to bring their capital to the country. Pakistani IT professionals are unable to play their true role due to the negligence of the government.
Today, the world is moving towards the digital age and the demand for IT professionals is also increasing. In such a situation, we should reform the IT sector and create more professionals in this field. But unfortunately, this sector is also neglected.
There are cartels in every manufacturing sector in Pakistan that determine the price of goods themselves. These cartels are free to make their own decisions due to the incompetence of the government. If the government creates more opportunities by encouraging the manufacturing sector to increase competition, the cartels’ powers can be overcome. Pakistan’s interest rates are still very high in the region and rising costs make it difficult for our productive sector to compete internationally, which affects our exports.
Pakistan needs to focus on agriculture, human resources, and IT to move forward and strengthen its economy, otherwise the economic woes will be our destiny.
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