Category Archives: South Asia

Rising Corruption in Karachi

karachi_corruption

Corruption in Pakistan is not a new issue, but as of late it has had a detrimental effect on the country’s economic fortunes and its ability to attract foreign investment. A 2014 report by Transparency International Pakistan found over Rs. 8.5 trillion ($94 billion) was wasted due to corruption and bad governance from 2009-2013, during the previous administration led by the Pakistan People’s Party.  Pakistan currently ranks 126 out of 175 nations in Transparency International’s Global Corruption Perception Index, and lags behind neighboring countries in economic development due in part to rampant public sector corruption at both the national and provincial level.  According to Fasih Bokhari, former chairman of the National Accountability Bureau, five to seven billion rupees ($51 million to $72 million) are wasted per day due to corruption and overall inefficiency.

Major General Bilal Akbar, Director General of Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, a border security and law enforcement agency, estimated that over Rs. 230 billion ($2.3 billion) is illegally extorted or otherwise collected in Karachi each year.  General Akbar also stated that political party members, city and district government officials, and law enforcement personnel are complicit in these illegal activities, and that the money extorted is frequently used to fund terrorist and gang-related criminal activities.

Read More…

Good Governance in Pakistan is Crucial for Greater Trade

Despite new export opportunities, Pakistan's textile factories are shutting down due to energy shortages. (Photo: Dawn)

Despite new export opportunities, Pakistan’s textile factories are shutting down due to energy shortages. (Photo: Dawn)

Huma Sattar was a CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at the Heritage Foundation

Successive governments in Pakistan have shown profound interest in increasing trade with the rest of the world by pursuing various trade and investment agreements. From a significant Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China signed in 2006 which will soon enter its second phase, to a trade and transit agreement with Afghanistan, as well as several free or preferential trade agreements with Malaysia, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka, Pakistan is also negotiating possibilities of trade agreements and cooperation with Turkey, Thailand, and the ASEAN region. The country is also part of the regional trade agreement South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) together with India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, and other South Asian countries. Though the agreement is not yet fully operational, it is a source of much discourse and tremendous unrealized potential for all countries involved.

Pakistan’s trade has increased overall, going from $24 billion in 2003 to $72 billion in 2014, and opening Pakistan’s markets may be a positive indicator of some improvements in Pakistan’s economy.  From importing primarily oil and fuel products, Pakistan is now also importing machinery, electrical and electronic equipment, and industrial inputs. The industrial sector, particularly large scale manufacturing, witnessed a growth of about five percent in fiscal year 2014.

Read More…

Gender Diversity on Pakistan’s Corporate Boards

When it comes to gender diversity, too many boards still look like this in 2015 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

When it comes to gender diversity, too many boards still look like this in 2015 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Corporate boards have historically been comprised mainly of men. However, a number of countries have begun imposing quotas for the number of women on the boards of publicly traded or state-owned companies — an idea that is now being considered as a European Union-wide rule. This is likely to compel businesses elsewhere in the world, including Pakistan, to consider the gender diversity of their own corporate boards.

According to the International Finance Corporation, just 13 percent of 303 companies surveyed in Pakistan in 2010 had more than one woman director — a sample that included publicly listed companies, large family-owned firms, and private, unlisted companies. 

Read More…

Community and Political Actors Present ‘Ideas for Rebuilding Nepal’ to the Government

On April 25, a devastating earthquake of 7.8 magnitude rocked the central region of Nepal, claiming over 8000 lives, injuring thousands, and leaving another 2.8 million people homeless. The government of Nepal has been posed with one of its biggest disaster-related challenges in recent history. Despite the looming challenges that remain, a window of opportunity has emerged for Nepal to mobilize the energy and enthusiasm of its citizens for a better, more prosperous country. The fabric of Nepali society—which exemplifies cooperation, tolerance, and compassion— has been on clear display in the voluntary efforts of various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society groups, and individuals alike. This energy marks a new beginning for Nepali society and politics.

In June, CIPE Nepal partner, Samriddhi, the Prosperity Foundation (Samriddhi) held a two day conference under its Nepal Leaders’ Circle initiative. Nepal Leaders’ Circle is a platform for reform-minded politicians to deliberate policies affecting the country. The conference, held at the Nepal Administrative Staff College in Lalitpur, brought together key actors from Nepal’s government, NGOs, community based organizations (CBOs), and private sector. These individuals have been on the ground in both the immediate relief and reconstruction efforts. The purpose of the conference was to share a common platform to discuss respective ideas to rebuild Nepal.

The conference addressed two primary themes: institutional mechanisms for disaster preparedness and management and the journey ahead in reviving Nepal’s economy, financing reconstruction, and promoting growth. Over the course of two days, 11 sessions with 63 expert speakers were held, with over 800 individuals from more than 100 organizations.

The two-day conference was a major success and was well covered in the local media. The private sector’s innovation and entrepreneurship was highlighted as a key mechanism for rebuilding the country’s economy. Participants emphasized the use of locally available wisdom, knowledge, and resources while incorporating globally available lessons on post-earthquake management.

The conference highlighted certain characteristics of the reconstruction plan that will particularly focus on economic revival and growth. They are as follows:

  • A focus on micro, small, and medium enterprises that form the backbone of Nepali economy;
  • A strategy for involving the private sector in the overall reconstruction process and increasing private sector investment;
  • A policy initiative that understands and responds to the realities and demands of communities and incorporates a holistic approach to the geological, socio-cultural, and economic realities of the affected areas;
  • Creation of space for innovation and experimentation; and
  • Fast track decision-making and better governance.

While challenges remain for Nepal’s economic reconstruction, it is clear that this is a turning point in the socio-economic history of the country. If its citizens are able to institutionalize reforms, especially those targeting economic growth and disaster preparedness, the country will be able to recover and revive its emerging economy.

Medhawi Giri is the Program Assistant for South Asia at CIPE. 

Enhancing Youth’s Political Participation in Pakistan

pakistani-youth-reclaim-national-anthem-world-record-1508x70

By Fayyaz Bhidal, Research Manager at Sustainable Development Policy Institute

Internationally, the average age of eligibility for election to national parliament starts at 25 years old. According to a UNDP 2012 Global Parliamentary Report, approximately 1.65 percent of parliamentarians globally are in their 20s, while 11.87 percent are in their 30s. However, the global average age of parliamentarians is 53 years old.

In Pakistan, youth represent 60 percent of the total population, but their voice is largely unrepresented in the political system. The youth population is not only a dynamic source of innovation and creativity, but has contributed to and even catalyzed important changes in political systems, power-sharing dynamics, and economic opportunities since Pakistan was created. One leading force for these changes is the Youth Parliament of Pakistan which was created in 2007 to engage youth in dialogue on important issues affecting Pakistan. Within local government, youth are also taking an active role in achieving implementation of work. In the recently held local government polls of Khyber Pakhtunkwa Province of Pakistan, 3,339 seats were devoted for the youth.

Read More…

CIPE Launches First Annual Photo Competition

Photo: © 2011 Swapping aid for trade in northern Uganda, Pete Lewis/UK Department for International Development

Photo: © 2011 Swapping aid for trade in northern Uganda, Pete Lewis/UK Department for International Development

“There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.” – Robert Frank

Show us your best story-telling photo

Do you like to tell stories through photography? Then show us your best work! The first annual Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) Photo Competition is now open for submissions.

Open to participants of all ages, including student, amateur, and professional photographers, the inaugural photo competition will focus on the theme of Entrepreneurship.

Read More…

CIPE Pakistan Releases 2014 Activities Report

Pakistan Compliance Photo

Shell Pakistan procurement manager Mehnaz J. Mohajir speaking at a CIPE compliance training event in Karachi in October 2014.

The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) has been working in Pakistan for the past eight years encouraging private sector-driven economic reform and increasing the role of the private sector in the country’s democratic process.

CIPE’s Pakistan office just released its 2014 Pakistan Activities Report, which profiles an array of innovative programs that encourage private sector inclusion in the policy-making process. Highlights include:

  • CIPE partner the Policy Research Institute of the Market Economy (PRIME), an Islamabad-based think tank, developed three “scorecards” that track how well the government has implemented its economic reform agenda. The reports are available at http://govpolicyscorecard.com.pk/. These reports show that the government has made little progress toward implementing the reforms promised in its election manifesto.
  • CIPE Pakistan began a new program this year that mobilizes the private sector as a leading force in reducing bribery, extortion, and other forms of corruption. CIPE organized activities with its partner the Overseas Investor Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) to highlight the anti-corruption and corporate compliance issues faced by mid-sized firms seeking to enter global supply chains, and provided training and tools to help these companies develop anti-corruption programs in their organizations.
  • CIPE, its partners, and other organizations continued to organize activities to promote the culture of entrepreneurship in Pakistan. CIPE, in association with the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry, organized a conference titled “How corruption hampers entrepreneurship?” Students from various universities participated in the discussions and developed a greater understanding of the importance of combating the corrupt practices that hinder business activity in the country.
  • Four key chambers from Karachi, Islamabad, Gujranwala and Faisalabad organized the annual “All Pakistan Chambers President Conference.” This event provided the business community with the opportunity to discuss the government’s performance on economic reforms and share their concerns over the lack of progress in a number of areas.
  • CIPE held workshops and seminars with women chambers to help them build their membership, strengthen their internal governance processes, and improve their management capacity.
  • CIPE continued to work with partners such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP), Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), the World Bank, and International Finance Corporation (IFC) to press for the implementation of the Rules of Corporate Governance for Public Sector Companies, and to highlight how corporate governance can strengthen family-owned companies.

In 2015, CIPE Pakistan, through the support of its partners and with valuable guidance from its Project Advisory Committee, will continue to serve and strengthen democracy through private sector driven market-oriented reforms.

Read the full 2014 Pakistan Activities Report here.

Emad Sohail is Senior Program Officer for CIPE Pakistan.