By, Afreen Baig
The World financial crisis of 2008 – 2010, exposed the weaknesses in the several of the first world economies, which were earlier considered to be the paradigm of economic success. Failure of the banking system, collapse of sub-prime mortgage business, ascending debt-to-GDP ratio, unpredictable unemployment and bankruptcies declared by several established businesses, raised serious doubts regarding the foundations of those economies.
Pakistan and most of the Middle Eastern economies have remained safe from the domino effect of the world financial crises, both for entirely separate reasons. The problems confronting Pakistan’s economy are due to economic mismanagement, living in quandary regarding policies, misplacement of priorities and corruption – not worldwide recession.
While the first world countries continue to have the resources and finances to deficit finance their economies out of recession, to push start the cycle and to increase the aggregate demand – third world and smaller economies like Pakistan have few viable options to exercise, these options being more functional and realistic.
By, Afreen Baig
Budget 2010-11 has come with many promises to reform the economy. The government has set forth few objectives for it to achieve. The 7th objective is a resolve to make the country ‘fertile for investment’, with whatever limited resources available.
If an economy runs towards economic imbalance, stagnation or recession, or if one has to kick start a new economy, there are two main options any government has. First, the government along-with the Central bank pledges to pump in direct money to start the circulation cycle. Recent examples of this are the US government’s pledge for the ‘rescue package’ worth roughly $12 trillion towards the economy. Similarly UK government spent nearly a trillion Pound to bail out and refinance its bank through ‘Quantitative Easing’. Likewise, Japan also launched above $350 billion stimulus packages, to lift its economy out of the recent recession and over the past decade of its economic stagflation it has taken several such smaller initiatives to stimulate the economy. All these measure will fall under what is termed as Keynesian thesis after J M Keynes. Alternatively, one may call these Deficit financing. The idea is that the government uses its resources to increase consumption and liquidity which in turn increases demand and economic activity resulting in increased jobs and employment.
Compiled by: Mirza Rohail B
Pakistan is on the verge of Telecom revolution. Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) in 2004 introduced two types of license for ISPs – regional and nationwide, and also exempted them from Central Excise Duty. Since liberalization, over the past four years, the Pakistani telecom sector has attracted more than $9 billion in foreign investments. During 2007-08, the Pakistani Communication sector alone received $ 1.62 billion in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) – about 30% of the country’s total foreign direct investment.
By March 2009, Pakistan had 91 million mobile subscribers – 25 million more subscribers than reported in the same period 2008. In addition to 3.1 million fixed lines, while as many as 2.4 million are using Wireless Local Loop connections.
Pakistan is ranked 4th in terms of broadband Internet growth in the world, as the subscriber base of broadband Internet has been increasing rapidly with the total base crossing 170,000 in the country. The rankings are released by Point Topic Global broadband analysis, a global research centre.
Pakistan according to PC World was amongst those top five countries with the highest SMS traffic processed with 763 million SMS during 2008-09. In terms of year-on-year growth, Pakistan traffic volume grew by 253 percent compared to last year during the same period.
The contribution of telecom sector to the national exchequer increased to Rs 110 billion in the year 2007-08 on account of general sales tax, activation charges and other steps as compared to Rs 100 billion in the year 2006-07.
Compiled by: Mirza Rohail B
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is a substitute for gasoline (petrol) or diesel fuel. It is considered to be an environmentally “clean” alternative to those fuels. It is made by compressing methane (CH4) extracted from natural gas. Argentina and Brazil are the two other countries with the largest fleets of CNG vehicles. As of 2005, Pakistan is the largest user of CNG in Asia, and as of 2010, the largest in the world, according to the The International Association of Natural Gas Vehicles (IANGV).
The Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) sector of Pakistan by end of 2007 has attracted over Rs 70 billion investments during the last few years as a result of liberal and encouraging policies of the government. Presently, around 3,105 CNG stations are operating in the country in 85 cities and towns, and 1000 more would be setup in the next three years. It has provided employment to above 30,000 people in Pakistan.
Over 2.4 million vehicles were converted to CNG as of end 2009, showing an increase of 35 percent yearly. On average 29,167 vehicles are being converted to CNG every month. All Pakistan CNG Association (APA) Sana-ur-Rehman confirms that CNG stakeholders have invested Rs.90 billion in this sector and another Rs 20 billion investment is in pipeline. The CNG consumers had invested around Rs 60 billion in converting their vehicles to CNG.
Pakistan is now the most investment-friendly nation in South Asia. Business regulations have been profoundly overhauled along liberal lines, especially since 1999. Most barriers to the flow of capital and international direct investment have been removed. Foreign investors do not face any restrictions on the inflow of capital, and investment of up to 100% of equity participation is allowed in most sectors (local partners must be brought in within 5 years and contribute up to 40% of the equity in the services and agriculture sectors). Unlimited remittance of profits, dividends, service fees or capital is now the rule.
Business regulations are now among the most liberal in the region. This was confirmed by a World Bank report published in 2008 ranking Pakistan (at 76th) well ahead of neighbors like China (at 93rd), India (at 120th), Bangladesh (107th) and Sri Lanka (101th) based on ease of doing business. The ranking is based on 10 indicators of business regulation that follows the time and cost to meet government requirements in business start-up, operation, trade, taxation, and closure.
The tables below also negate arguments by those that accuse Pakistan of raising foreign investment by selling off state assets. Fact is that only $6 billion were raised by selling state assets in the past 15 years. (News)
View Detailed (Country wise and Sector wise) Facts & Figures below. Keep reading
Written By: Honorable Shaukat Aziz, ex-Prime Minister of Pakistan
2009: When I was asked to write a piece on the economic way forward, I hesitated at first because I felt that with a new government in place it is better that we leave the way forward to the new economic managers, rather than play the role of back seat drivers and provide unsolicited advice. But the mountain of criticism of the previous government policies from all sorts of arm chair critics, ranging from retired bureaucrats and economists of the cold war era, who still believe in the supremacy of state management of the economy and for whom Venezuela and Bolivia are the new role models, to Islamists who feel that the entire western global economic system is doomed and we need to chalk out a new paradigm – convinced me that perhaps the time had come to analyze the past and set the record straight, assess the current situation and contribute to the debate on the way forward.
Now that we have the political parties of the nineties back in power it can be instructive to examine a few economic indicators of the nineties with the past eight years and draw inferences. Since the economic growth numbers have been challenged by the critics. I will use numbers that are not subject to disagreement. So for example, if the GDP growth numbers are being challenged, than other growth indicators that the public can understand can show the reality. The official GDP growth from around US $ 65 billion in 1999-2000 to US$ 165 billion in 2007-08 (a factor of 2.5 times) is challenged as being fudged, but growth of credit to the private sector over the same time period from Rs 1 trillion to Rs 2.5 trillion, again a factor of 2.5 times, cannot be challenged.