Dec 20 - 26, 20

Pakistan is blessed with an enormous pool of human potential, as we have over 100 million of population that is below the age of 25 years. With exploiting the potential of this human capital, Pakistan can achieve success leaps and bounds but poor law and order situation, energy crises, high cost of doing business and inconsistent economic policies are major obstacles in achieving the goal of economic prosperity.

As per the UNDP Human Development Report (HDR) for 2010, Pakistan's profile on the Human Development Index (HDI) ranked at 141 out of 182 countries. Human capital plays an important role in economic growth, hence, the government needs to reorient its education system to enhance skills development and productivity to meet the challenge of competitiveness posed by technological advancement.

Although the government has embarked on an efficient skills development reform project (SDRP) with the objective to improve the quality and relevance of skills development programs to support labor-intensive industries but still a lot is to be done.

Pakistan needs to learn from the experiences of countries like China, Korea, and Japan, especially from China, which is the fastest growing economy in the world. The basic pillar of the China's strategy is massive human resource development.

National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) is a not for profit organisation with the mission to transform lives by improving access to basic education and healthcare in the country's poorest communities. NCHD is the leading agency fighting illiteracy in 134 districts of Pakistan and helping people to find routes out of ignorance. With nationwide network of 101 Human Development Support Units situated all over Pakistan and hands-on-experience, NCHD aims at enlarging the scale and scope of the efforts made by the government in ensuring the effective provision of social services, a spokesperson of NCHD said.

According to her, NCHD perceives human development as a process of enlarging choices, building capacities, and encouraging participation of communities at the grass roots. To ensure this, NCHD is directed towards supporting government line departments, civil society organisations and the local communities in the sectors of education, basic health care, and income generating activities at the grassroots. NCHD identifies, and consequently presents innovative and cost effective solutions to fill implementation gaps, building the capacities of the involved agencies and stakeholders to effectively address the issues hampering the process. Through extensive training programs and capacity building workshops, which cater to all the stakeholders involved in the process, NCHD helps ensure a lasting impact. These capacity-building exercises are targeted towards government line departments, community based organisations and the community.

The need is to channelise institutions like NCHD for capitalising human potential.

According to experts, Pakistan will become the fourth largest nation on earth in terms of population by the year 2050.

With a median age of around 20 years, Pakistan is also a "young" country. It is estimated that currently there are approximately 104 million Pakistanis below 30 years. The proportion of population residing in urban centres has risen to 36 per cent.

The draft population policy 2009-10 envisages to reduce fertility level from 3.56 (2009) to 3.1 births per woman by the year 2015. To achieve this contraceptive prevalence rate has to increase from 30 to 60 per cent by 2030.

They said Pakistan is also experiencing a dwindling dependency ratio. Reduced dependency ratios mean that the proportion of the population in working ages (15-64) continues to increase while those in the younger ages (0-14) decrease. The proportion of the elderly in the total population is projected to show a substantial increase after 2025. The decline in dependency ratio can affect per capita output through several intermediate channels.

At the micro level, parents with fewer dependent children can more readily afford productive investments, and at the macro level resources otherwise needed to support an increasing population can be put to directly productive investments.

Taking five-year period of 2010-15 and 2025-30, it is predicted by the United Nations that life expectancy in Pakistan would increase from 68 to 71.9. The population growth rate would decrease to 1.52, and total fertility rate to 2.70. The crude birth rate (CBR), crude death rate (CDR) and infant mortality rate (IMR) are projected under this scenario to decline to 21.4, 5.6, and 42.2 respectively.

According to them, there are approximately seven million Pakistanis living abroad, remitting close to US$8 billion annually through formal channels to Pakistan. Worker remittances are the second largest source of foreign exchange after exports.

Remittances, which are usually sent to immediate family members who have stayed behind, are among the most direct benefits from migration; their benefits spread broadly into local economies. They also serve as foreign exchange earnings for the origin countries of migrants.

In 2008-09, the estimated labour force grew by 3.7 per cent. The growth in female labour force was greater than male labour force and consequently the increase in female employment was greater. Employment comprises all persons ten years of age and above who worked at least one hour during the reference period and were either "paid employed" or "self employed".

Leading businessperson and vice president SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry Iftikhar Ali Malik said: "Pakistan is now open to Chinese businessmen with best atmosphere of investment which provides significant possibilities for Chinese and other foreign investors."

According to him, Pakistan with Chinese investment would achieve sustained growth in key sectors, including increase in per capita income and improvement in micro-economic in the years to come.

Iftikhar Ali Malik observed that Pakistan is ideally located geographically with immediate access to the Central Asian Republics and has a competitively affordable and expanding work force of 36 million.

He said Pakistan's foreign investment policy was open and liberal, which was good news for Chinese companies interested in doing business here.