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Structural reforms, technology investment can bolster Pakistan’s growth picture

Structural reforms, technology investment can bolster Pakistan’s growth picture

Interview with Mr Khushnood Aftab –CEO and founder, Viper Technology (Pvt) Limited

Profile:

Mr Khushnood Aftab is the CEO of Viper Technology. He is one of the entrepreneurs who has withstood all types of predicaments and has never given up, just proving that Pakistani brands are second to none.

PAGE: What is your take on the economic performance of Pakistan during 2017?

KHUSHNOOD AFTAB: Pakistan’s GDP remained around 5% and is expected to remain good in the future. 5% growth was I think the best in nine years. Accelerating growth is good news and reflects the country’s success in building confidence. There is need to monitor structural reforms too. There could have been further significant gains, if tax policies and administrative reforms were implemented. The World Bank also highlights the importance of the skills of the youth for better jobs. The Punjab Government is putting in efforts to significantly increase the scale of technical and vocational training programs in an attempt to boost job prospects for the province’s ‘youth bulge’. Several steps in this area have been identified including the application of quality standards and the introduction of initiatives to improve matching between jobseekers and prospective employers.

PAGE: What is your take on industrialization in Pakistan?

KHUSHNOOD AFTAB: There is dire need for the following to keep pace with the world:

• Skills as 70% Pakistani firms complain of skills shortages
• Infrastructure
• SME access to finance, technology etc
• Investment climate (sub-national strategies)
• New vents for growth
• Relative prices
• Policy coordination

PAGE: What must be done to attract foreign investment?

KHUSHNOOD AFTAB: We must work on increasing exports. Unfortunately, export always meant textile and leather in Pakistan. We have to invest in technology to enhance the exports and get more foreign exchange.

We must launch massive privatization program involving state disinvestment in banking, power generation, telecommunications, airline and railways. Foreign Direct Investment may be attracted for technology. Foreign investors would be more than happy to invest in technology.

 

PAGE: Your views about entrepreneurship in Pakistan:

KHUSHNOOD AFTAB: We have young population. Half of the population in Pakistan is below 30 years of age. This demographic change indicates that large number of jobs and work opportunities are needed right now otherwise unemployment rate will increase to a dangerous level and it will definitely bring its consequence may be in the form of increased crime rate or increased suicide rate etc. By educating and equipping the younger population with the skills required both inside Pakistan as well as in the labor scarce countries, the addition to our labor force can become a source of continuous supply to the rest of the world. On the other hand, an uneducated and unemployable youth with poor skills can create a social and political upheaval for the country. Creating job opportunities cannot help alone; we need to develop entrepreneurship in Pakistan which is infect growing not only in the field of technology, but in other sectors too. Youth is also struggling on new sectors like IoT, designing, AI…

PASHA under Nest I/O is doing a lot of efforts in grooming youth for entrepreneurship. Universities should teach the youth to become entrepreneurs.

PAGE: Your views on Pakistan’s international standing during 2017?

KHUSHNOOD AFTAB: I love my country and believe that this is blessing for us, however, unfortunately we lag hundreds of years behind many countries. It is high time that we wake up. To me, there is no place in the world like Pakistan and the perception of Pakistan would improve in the days to come.

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