LAHORE: Pakistan needs a minimum of 8 per cent GDP growth to create more jobs for its expanding population, speakers at a seminar held at a local hotel here on Wednesday agreed.
The seminar titled ‘Investment Climate Enablement Seminar’ held by the Planning and Development Department of the Government of Punjab in collaboration with the Investment Climate Reforms Unit was aimed at setting an investment enabling reform agenda for the province.
Pakistan’s population currently has a huge youth bulge. Almost two-thirds of the population is under the age of 16, a large proportion of which will be entering the job market in the near future. “The country needs to start growing at a minimum 8 per cent to be able to create the required jobs,” said World Bank (WB) Country Director for Pakistan Patchamuthu Illangovan. Regarding how the country should aim to achieve this target, he added that the country needs to improve its investment-to-GDP ratio and its production rate.
“Currently the Investment-to-GDP ratio is around 15 per cent, this needs to go up to 25 or 30 per cent. A lot needs to be done to rebrand Pakistan as a viable investment destination,” Illangovan insisted adding that the productivity rate also has to go up to 2 per cent from its current rate of 1 per cent.
“Gender disparity in Pakistan in labour participation is huge. Women need to be encouraged to become entrepreneurs and take part in the labour force,” he continued and highlighted that recently the country has seen an increase in women participation which is a good sign. The WB country head also insisted on the importance of encouraging cross-border trade to increase productivity.
Similarly, Planning and Development Board Chairman Muhammad Jahanzeb Khan during his inaugural address also stressed on encouraging GDP growth for creating more jobs and reducing poverty. “It’s unfortunate that systematic private and public dialogue was not in place in the past. However, the Investment Climate Reforms Unit (ICRU) is working to bridge this gap, and in the last few months, we have been able to make substantial progress in this regard,” he said adding that public-private partnership is essential for growth.
The event also marked the launch of the Punjab Investor’s Handbook 2018. Punjab Minister for Industries, Commerce and Investment Sheikh Allauddin, Investment Climate Reforms Unit Managing Director Maleeha Bangash and HBL Asset Management Chief Executive Farid Ahmed Khan were also present on the occasion.