Addressing a press conference in Islamabad last week,
Minister for Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis, Ghulam Sarwar
Khan told newsmen that his ministry has set an ambitious target of
exporting two hundred thousand professionals, skilled and semi-skilled
manpower annually to other countries to earn maximum jobs in the
international market and earn maximum foreign exchange for the country.
The government has allocated more than 1 billion
rupees during the current fiscal year for undertaking various training
and development of workers skill programme in the country and thereby
facilitate the export of manpower. The main purpose of enhanced manpower
export was to contribute to poverty alleviation programme. This target
of manpower export will bring relief to 200,000 families.
The Minister revealed that Kuwait has asked the
Overseas Employment Corporation (OEC) to send 4,700 Pakistani workers.
While breaking the encouraging news, he referred to it as "the
biggest demand from Kuwait in recent decades." More to it, he also
revealed that another employer from that country has asked for 470
drivers. Again, while disclosing that some other countries had demanded
1,125 workers and that these positions would soon be advertised.
Noteworthy, in this regard, the Minister's further disclosed that
demands from Korea, Libya and Malaysia for over 655 workers being in the
pipeline and the agreement with the Korean employer is scheduled to be
signed in November. In addition to this, an employer from Libya is
making queries for selection of 200 workers from Pakistan. The Malaysian
government is planning a policy to import Pakistani workers, in maximum
He said according to a conservative estimate, more
than $4.5 billion, as compared to $3.1 billion were received during
2002-03 from the expatriates during this year. The fresh export of
200,000 manpower would further push the remittances up by about $ 500
million in the first year. The minister claimed "people have faith
and confidence in the economic policies of the government that have
motivated them to send money to Pakistan. They are not only sending
money but have also started investing in Pakistan", he added.
The Minister revealed that the work on establishment
of labour complexes was in full swing in key industrial areas of the
Punjab and these labour complexes would include a labour colony,
hospital and school for children of industrial workers. The present
regime, he said, was taking revolutionary measures providing better and
modern health cover and accommodation facilities to the industrial
workers at their doorstep.
The Minister said sufficient funds were being
mobilized on providing maximum facilities of education to the children
of industrial workers while free uniforms and textbooks were provided to
the children in the educational institutions functioning in the
province. He said that proposals are under considerations by Provincial
Workers Welfare Boards to construct labour colonies out of workers
welfare fund in the country. To focus on the problems of overseas
Pakistanis, he said the labour ministry has establish a complaint cell
and help in line in the ministry to immediately resolve all the
grievance of the overseas Pakistanis.
All this, put together, can be viewed as marking the
beginning of a new process of revival the once booming manpower export,
which had lately remained depressed, with gradual contraction in its
size. Several have been the causes behind the severe setback to the
country's manpower exports. However, before going into the causes of its
gradual decline in recent decades, it will be worthwhile to analyze the
factors behind its earlier upsurge. For one thing, the vast majority of
its people inhabiting the areas of tremendous natural resources
constitute equally huge potential of human resource, as a gift of nature
to make best of all the nature's other gifts.
It is, however, just another matter that this huge
manpower potential, remained largely awaiting its gainful exploitation,
because of the errors and omissions of the new country's early planners.
This, of course, has reference to the neglect of agriculture and other
labour intensive sectors of development. On the contrary, it will be
recalled that, for various reasons, including the lure of highly
industrialized west, they fell for rapid industrialization from an
erroneous strategy. Of course, there was nothing basically wrong about
the urge to industrialize, for it was ideally suited to the country's
potential, including both material and manpower.
While Pakistan's agriculture sector with its fertile
soil and wide variety of crops, provided all the opportunity to boost
production to increasing levels with greater attention and will. It
could not only meet our own food and other needs but also enhance
foreign exchange earnings through exports. This aspect of agriculture,
unfortunately, failed to impress the early planners and managers of the
economy. Instead, they hastened with industrialization, unmindful of the
fact that Pakistan had nothing by way of producing capital goods,
without which establishment of industries could boom. This is what has
The huge amounts of money, in foreign currency, spent
from own resources or through foreign loans or aid, also proved
counterproductive. The reasons for this are not too far to seek either.
Moreover, the industrial capacities built were soon found too large,
compared to the demand. This should leave little doubt in view of the
fact that the industrial sector lacked a strong and wide enough consumer
base. It will, thus, be noted that strong, hardy labour power, as well
as skilled craftsmen, remained deprived of any effective role in the
hastily initiated industrial effort. But enterprising as the nation's
manpower happens to be, subsequently it created its own demand in other
countries, far and near, pulsating with development activity suited to
This was what opened in a growing market for our
manpower far and wide in the world, while increasingly enriching the
country with huge foreign exchange earnings. Although with the fall in
demand for overseas workers, for a number of reasons, including the
menace of terrorism, Pakistani manpower continues to make its need felt.
Now with indications of its revival, it will be all the more advisable
to fashion development as to ensure their participation. At the same
time, there will be need for educating and training of the workers in a
manner conducive to the new emerging world economic scenario.