Oct 052017
Thank you, teacher

World Teacher’s Day is observed every year on October 5. It is celebrated to pay respect to teachers for their priceless services. Special ceremonies are also held at a government level to honour the services of teachers. This time the Punjab government decided to distribute cash prizes and awards to school teachers. On the basis of their performance, 500 teachers from all over Punjab were nominated for the awards. In addition to cash prizes, teachers were also given an increment in their salaries. This is a commendable step which will act as a catalyst to increase the motivation of teachers. A teacher builds the character of a nation. It is said, ‘if you want to destroy a nation, undermine the education system of that nation and you will have the desired results.’ The state of affairs of the country’s education sector is disappointing. The education budget is inefficient – only two percent of GDP. Schoolteachers at government education institutions are hired on low salary packages and are given no extra allowances. The government must come up with a proper plan to increase the availability of funds. This will also facilitate and accommodate teachers. Muhammad Fayyaz (Mianwali) Click for detailed story

Sep 162017

This refers to the article, ‘Deindustrialisation’ (Sep 10), by Dr Farrukh Saleem. It is a well-written article that talks about the downward trend of the industrial and manufacturing sectors in Pakistan. The writer has also presented some critical factors that are responsible for this mess. These factors include high rate of tax on the industrial unit, the high rates of corporate taxation on the listed companies engaged in direct manufacturing, and steep and inflated rates of gas and electricity. Another factor contributing to this decline is the notion of the ‘casino economy’. Since the people have little or no propensity to save, therefore, investment in long-term industrial projects is stunted. Also, whatever spare cash is available it is easily used to either buy shares or to invest in real-estate businesses in order to make quick profits. This is the most dangerous factor because with manufacturing in decline, more and more products will continue to be imported, leading to both the lack of employment and current account imbalance. With a current population of 207.77 million, deindustrialisation and a high rate of unemployment will inevitably fuel poverty, insecurity, corruption, terrorism and extremism in Pakistan. The writer also made an interesting point. He has written that the manufacturing base as a percentage of GDP actually grew when the country was ruled by dictators. So we have observed that under civilian governments, the process of deindustrialisation has actually gained pace. The abovementioned factors should be looked into and a plan should be chalked out [Read More…]

Aug 302017
Education for all

For a country’s progress and development, education is the most important tool. In most countries, education till secondary level is provided for free. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, not much attention is paid to education. According to the Pakistan Education Statistics launched by the National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) around 44 percent children between ages of five and 16 are out of school. In 21 percent of the all primary schools across the country, only one teacher is appointed. Another shocking revelation in the report was that around 21 percent schools have only one room. The report further states that only 30 percent of students remained enrolled from class one till Grade 10 while the rest drop out of the school owing to personal reasons. If children cannot attend school because of social and economic reasons, the country can take steps to make education affordable to these children. Providing quality education is the responsibility of the government. Article 25-A of the constitution says, “The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by the law”. It is unfortunate that the government pays little to no attention to the education sector. Only 2.1 percent of the country’s GDP is spent on education. Pakistan also lacks good quality teachers. Competent teachers are required to uplift the education sector of the country. Both the public and private sectors have to contribute to improve the standard of education in [Read More…]

Jul 202017
Failed economy

This refers to the news report ‘Current account deficit widens 148pc to $12.098bln in FY17’ (Jul 20). This is an indicator of a failed economy. Pakistan’s business model has transformed. It has now become a consumer market flooded with foreign goods while the overseas markets for export have steeply shrunk. Both the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, being the engine of growth, are struggling. The current account gap at 4 percent of GDP, exceeding all expectations, should be a cause for serious alarm, but it has failed to shake the government. The situation hints at a much deepening economic crisis. Devaluation of overvalued rupee, increase in domestic interest rates, higher taxes and rise in utility charges with bout of inflation would be inevitable in the months ahead. As usual the burden is going to fall on the common man. H Arif (Karachi) Click for detailed story

Jul 182017
Getting harder everyday

Pakistan is an agricultural country. Agriculture is the backbone of the country’s economy. The agriculture sector generates 24 percent of the country’s GDP and 65 percent foreign exchange earnings through exports. Also, it provides employment to over 50 percent of the employed labour force and also ensures food security of the country. Unfortunately, the current state of this sector is deplorable. Increasing cost of inputs, persistent water shortage and low crop yields in many rural areas have forced traditional farmers to leave their traditional occupation and find alternate source of income in urban settlements. Agricultural experts in the sector, keeping an eye over the changing weather patterns and impacts of climate change on agriculture and water sources, are of the view that this emerging trend indicates that farmers have come under pressure because of the unbearable cost of cultivation. Sometimes the input cost exceeds the earnings. For poor farmers, this situation is unacceptable. In view of the above, there is a strong need on the part of the government to formulate a comprehensive strategy to address the pressure farmers are facing because of the rising cost of agricultural inputs. This will help reduce the migration of farmers. Khan Faraz (Peshawar) Click for detailed story

Jul 182017
The cry of collier

Coal mining is an indispensable part of our economy. It contributes around three percent to our GDP. Apart from this, the sector also plays a major role in meeting the country’s need of energy production. In Pakistan, during the fiscal year 2015-2016, approximately 1,965 billion tonnes of coal was extracted. This sector is contributing a lot to the country’s growth, but the people working in coal mines are leading a miserable life. The condition of these people is deplorable. Because of the harmful working environment, many miners suffer from fatal diseases, including tuberculosis, asthma and other lung diseases. They are offered low wage and little to no perquisites. That since 2010 over 228 coal miners have been killed in myriad accidents is a horrific fact. Apart from this, hundreds of miners get injured at work. Some serious injuries often lead to lifelong paralysis, making it difficult for workers to find a decent job. These victims are then swiftly pushed into the abyss of darkness and despair. There are several coal mines in Mach, Balochistan. The contractors are earning millions of rupees from them, but coal miners working in these mines are receiving low pay. The attention of the higher authorities has been drawn to this crisis, but they have always turned a blind eye to this serious issue. International standards should be adopted to address the health and safety of workers. Inzamam Qasim Silachi (Mach, Bolan) Click for detailed story

Jun 162017

When it comes to financial jiggery-pokery the incumbent government is in a league of its own. Since coming to power it has borrowed heavily, and is now massively indebted. Inevitably big debts show up in the public reporting of government finances. With debt ballooning and an inquisitive not to say censorial media chewing at the coattails of the finance minister the government decided to move the fiscal goalposts by redefining what public debt actually was. Amendments to the Finance Act 2017 will have the effect of understating the debt by the not insignificant sum of Rs2 trillion. This is the second time there has been a change in definition in the last year and not unreasonably it is being labelled as ‘window dressing’ by sceptical commentators. This may appear to be little more than semantic juggling, but the implications go wide and deep. Loans cost money, there is no such thing as free money and under the original 2005 FRDL law, amended in 2016, public debt should not be more than 60 per cent of GDP. With that figure now being exceeded remedial work was indicated and the finance minister came up with the idea of re-visioning the equation by bringing in the ‘gross versus net’ definition, a consequence of which is to wipe Rs2 trillion off the public debt and take it back down below the constitutionally-required level of 60 per cent — though the actual debt still remains on the government books. Much of this will be lost [Read More…]

Jun 142017
Farmers? demands

In the Budget 2017-18, the agricultural sector has received little or no new support schemes to provide relief to farmers. Despite the protests organised by leading farmer associations on the day that the budget was presented, their demands were largely ignored. The Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI) and several other agricultural experts had suggested a waiver of the general sales tax (GST) and the gas infrastructure development cess (GIDC) on fertiliser prices to support the agricultural sector. They also suggested the withdrawal of all taxes on the cost of farm-inputs, soil-nutrition and farm-machinery. But all these suggestions have been bluntly rejected by the government. The reduction of the GST and the GIDC on both the inputs and outputs was a crucial need. These decisions must be taken urgently to ensure the economic well-being of the huge farmer community in the country. Another suggestion, which could have truly revolutionised our agriculture sector in the long-term was that the federal government should have encouraged the technological advancement of agriculture through bio-tech enhancements, the mechanisation of farms and the optimisation of storage and faster transportation of the crops. Over the years, the federal policies have played a vital part in starting a revival process for agriculture. But it needs consistent policies to achieve economic growth and ensure prosperity for farmers. It is believed that Pakistan’s agriculture sector has the potential to achieve tremendous growth and contribute majorly in multiplying our GDP. Hence, the government must extend increasingly effective support to this essential sector. Ammar [Read More…]

May 272017
Consensus on 'charter of economy' is crucial before 2018 polls: Dar

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar stressed the need to create a "charter of economy" with consensus from all political segments, before the general elections next year and stated that the government's prime objective is to improve the economic condition of Pakistan.Speaking at the post-budget media briefing on Saturday, Dar said that the 2017-18 budget was focused on increasing spending on development programmes whereas inflation would also be curtailed.The government presented the Rs4.75 trillion budget on Friday which assigned more than Rs1tr for developmental expenditure while defence spending was increased to Rs920 billion.On Saturday, Dar noted that the new budget had set a tax revenue collection target which was 14 per cent higher than the preceding budget while the gross domestic product (GDP) target had been set at 6pc.Read: Budget: Can the PML-N govt meet the unrealistic targets it has set for itself?The federal minister pointed out that defence was given priority over other sectors, which is why it was allocated Rs920bn, a seven per cent increase over last year's budget.He also stated that the government had not imposed any new taxes on common citizens. "The perception that we have imposed taxes worth Rs500bn is wrong. We have imposed taxes worth Rs120bn and offered relief of Rs33bn."Citing the example of milk prices, he said that any such price hike was unjustified. He said, "I read on social media sites that the price of milk has gone up even though we did not impose any new tax on it. The price of milk [Read More…]

May 162017
PM touts Pakistan's investment prospects to Hong Kong forum

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif touted Pakistan's economic prospects to the One Belt One Road Pakistan Investment Forum in Hong Kong on Wednesday.Addressing the forum, Nawaz noted, "From a mere 3 per cent growth in the GDP before 2013, we are now on course to achieve a growth rate of well over 5pc during the current year, which is estimated to rise up to 7pc during the next two years."The premier lauded his government's policy reforms to the crowd in Hong Kong, where he arrived a day ago during his trip to China for the One Belt, One Road forum.Read more: PM, chief ministers travel to China to attend Belt and Road Forum"These reforms were multi-faceted. We reduced bank interest rates, eliminated tax exemptions to provide a level playing field, strengthened our tax administration, rationalised loan targeted subsidies and widened our social safety nets," the PM added. Explaining the investment prospects in Pakistan, Nawaz stated, "Most impressively, the value of our Karachi stock market index (KSE-100)h has tripled in less than four years."He highlighted how international economic agencies have been upgrading Pakistan's economic and financial stability."The World Bank forecast a GDP growth rate of 5.2pc for the current year. Standard and Poor has also upgraded its outlook, and expects Pakistan's debt to fall below 60pc of the GDP by 2018, improving Pakistan's long-term credit rating to be."Recognising the importance of social upheaval, the PM said, "Our government realises that focusing only on growth is not enough. It is imperative to sustain [Read More…]

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