LACK OF INSURANCE EXPERTS

SYED FAZL-E-HAIDER
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Feb 22 - 28, 2010

Present age is the age of emerging knowledge-based economies. Human capital and institutional capacity are considered as the essential components of a knowledge-based economy, which produces ideas and provides an impetus for growth and economic development of a country.

Ground realities call for a rational and long-term planning for human and institutional development and promotion of professional education in Pakistan. Investment in professional education will provide the country the required professionals for the development of various sectors of national economy.

Pakistan direly needs qualified insurance experts for which the country lacks the institutes like UK Institute of Chartered Insurance that can develop professionally qualified people. Such institutes should offer degree courses in Insurance & Risk Management. Keeping in view the growing need for qualified insurance experts through the Universities within the country and abroad, the government should announce a policy for sending the students abroad for employment.

Higher education has been the focus of former government for the past five years and continuity is essential to benefit from the services of highly educated and qualified professionals, who are receiving or have obtained Ph.D degrees in various disciplines from abroad under the Ph.D program of Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan.

Insurance sector operations have two main categories: life insurance and non-life insurance. The growth of non-life insurance depends on industrial development. The country's insurance industry has shown exceptional performance during the last three years. The industry has been the greater beneficiary of the recent increased economic activities in the industrial and consumer finance sectors. In fiscal year 2007, it witnessed a stellar growth of 18.2 percent.

Today education is considered a highly profitable business attracting high profile business tycoons for investment in this sector. Education, particularly the professional education, has become a commodity on sale. A common person cannot afford to pay even the fee for a semester being charged by the private institutions offering professional degrees. In fact, getting a professional degree is becoming not only difficult, but impossible for the middle class. It is beyond the reach of the lower middle class and the poor cannot even think of getting a professional degree in the given circumstances.

The government should encourage private sector but put checks on commoditization of education and ensure educational system free from discriminatory practices for all the citizens of Pakistan. Most of the private educational institutes have commercialized the professional education by charging high fees making it unaffordable for the common people. In other words, professional education has become a privilege of only rich, who can afford costly educational packages offered by the private institutions. These private institutions have developed a symbol of status by offering costly educational packages to aristocratic classes of the society.

Universities in public sectors have so far produced an army of jobless graduates and postgraduates, most of them are incapable to compete in practical fields. They have only one distinction of having a bachelor or master degrees in various disciplines to accomplish the formality of required job. Truly speaking, their degrees are worthless in practical scheme of the things.

University of Balochistan had announced the increase in fee for bachelor and master degrees in various disciplines in the year 2002. The rise was up to 300 to 400 percent. This drastic increase in fee caused protest in some circles. The former Vice Chancellor Justice Rasheed had given logical reasons for the rise in tuition fee of students receiving higher education in the campus. "Higher education is not the privilege claimed by any student," he contended. The decision was taken for enforcement of meritocracy. It was an initiation of Darwinism in arena of higher and specialized education, which means 'survival of the fittest'. In the past, every student claimed to get government scholarship once admitted to the University. The practices of nepotism and favouritism were rampant in this regard. The intelligent and deserving would remain deprived of enjoying the privilege of receiving higher education. This caused damage to meritocracy, prevalence of irregularities and acute dearth of research scholars in the campus. University administration for providing higher and quality education set a selective screening criterion. This was purported to produce the real academicians, research scholars, and individuals of high calibre.

The modern economists use the term 'human capital' for education, health and other human capacities that can raise productivity when increased. The analysis of investments in health and education is unified in human capital approach. The human capital approach focuses on the indirect ability of education and health to increase utility by increasing incomes. Investment in human capital formation means investment in education and health sectors. Only the educated, skilled, and healthy people can make the best use of the enormous natural resources of a country.

Unfortunately, Pakistan spends 1.5 percent of GDP on education while 0.5 to 0.6 percent of GDP on health, compared to India, which spends 4 to 5 percent of GDP on health and education.

Human development provides a wide range of choices and opportunities to the people for employment, nutrition, education, and health care. Sustainable growth and poverty reduction objectives are concomitantly linked to significant investment in human capital. The better human capital equipped with education in science and technology can be instrumental in increased productively with modern technology in all economic sectors. This will enhance industrial productivity and increase exportable output of the country.

The good governance is essential for the development of human resources. It ensures the transparency, efficiency and rationality in the utilization of public funds and national resources, encourages growth of the private sector, promotes effective delivery of public services and helps establish the rule of law. Along with good governance, the people friendly policies, and sound macroeconomic management are also of immense importance in this context.

The government should take steps for establishing an autonomous institute to produce qualified insurance experts on the lines of UK Institute of Chartered Insurance. Insurance Association of Pakistan, Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Ministry of Commerce, and insurance companies, students, and teachers can play a significant role in flourishing the insurance sector and developing human resources in the country.

In 2006, Hailey College of Banking, Insurance & Finance commenced degree programs in insurance with the support of University of the Punjab and Insurance Association of Pakistan.