Pakistani businessmen in the largest, prosperous province Punjab, responding to the advice furnished by the World Bank:
…the cost of doing business is increasing due to our exposure to IFIs-imposed structural reforms’ conditionalities and cross conditionalities resulting in higher oil prices, utility charges and tighter fiscal policy and monetary policy.
Today, we are again faced with an imminent slow down in the manufacturing sector due to withdrawal of subsidies especially from oil, gas and electricity. In the Budget 2008-09 the government announced reduction in important subsidies for food, oil, gas and electricity.
The LCCI Vice President Shafqat saeed Piracha said that cost of doing business is set to further rise in Pakistan due especially due to misplaced and ill-timed withdrawal of subsidy on oil, gas and electricity.
This is going to suppress industrial development growth in Pakistan. This is especially going to suffocate the development of SMEs in manufacturing sector that despite lack of policy focus and difficulties in accessing credit and modern training facilities played an important role in employment generation and exports since the mid 1970s.
Instead of imposing micromanaging our economy and imposing harsh conditionalities on us the IFIs and the World Bank should provide us more help in the areas of technical knowledge and skills for improving our social and physical infrastructure.
Lahore, April 17, 2008 – A new report released today by the World Bank calls for a reevaluation of education policies in the context of a dramatic increase in private schools for primary education in Pakistan. The report presents facts and findings from a survey of all public and private primary schools in 112 villages in Pakistan’s Punjab province, and lays out important policy options based on detailed data to facilitate evidence-based policymaking.
The Learning and Educational Achievement in Punjab Schools (LEAPS), the result of collaboration between the World Bank and researchers from Harvard University and Pomona College, says for-profit private schools have become a widespread presence in both urban and rural areas, providing parents another option for investing in their children’s education. Between 2000 and 2005, the number of private schools increased from 32,000 to 47,000, and by the end of 2005, one-third of enrolled children at the primary level was studying in a private school.
The report says a large fraction of rural Pakistani households no longer lives in a village with one or two government schools. Half the population of rural Punjab lives in villages where parents can choose from 7 or 8 schools.
While overall enrollments increased by 10 percent between 2001 and 2005, the report says quality of education is lagging and children perform significantly below curricular standards for common subjects and concepts at their grade-level. Children in private schools score significantly higher than those in government schools, even when they are from the same village. In fact, it will take children in government schools 1.5 – 2.5 years of additional schooling to catch up to where private school children are in Class 3. Better learning results in private schools do not arise from higher costs — it costs half as much to educate a child in a private school (Rs.1000 per year) compared to a government school (Rs.2000 per year).
Download Executive Summary
By Ali Cheema
THE emphasis on eliminating poverty through the pursuit of social justice in the prime minister’s hundred-day programme is a welcome change from President Musharraf’s policy, which favoured the trickle-down recipe of poverty alleviation.
The previous regime’s erstwhile economic gurus went about the business of calculating the percentage decline in mean poverty in relation to the increased rate of growth, which became its battle cry. The much-advertised official verdict was that poverty in Pakistan had declined by over 10 per cent in the last four years.
The merits and demerits of the official calculations notwithstanding (the veracity of the official calculations is subject to intense debate), by becoming obsessed with average reductions the previous regime’s policy approach to poverty failed to develop an appreciation of the deep structural constraints impacting poverty in Pakistan.
These structural constraints impact poverty in a number of ways. Their primary impact is the tremendous variation in household poverty that is caused at the district and sub-provincial level. These constraints have resulted in the creation of high-poverty districts that are stuck in ‘poverty traps’, where endemic poverty is persistent over the long run. The socio-economic channels through which growth ‘trickle down’ is said to happen remain extremely fragile in these districts. That is, growth alone has not and will not deliver in these districts. Continue reading