The World Economic Forum lists a weakening judiciary as one of the issues holding back economic reform in Pakistan. (Photo: Pakistan Today)
In Pakistan, the process of economic reforms has been painfully slow – a fact underlined by stalled or slipping progress on several international indices. On the World Bank’s 2015 Doing Business, Pakistan fell from 107th out of 185 countries to 128th. The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index brought Pakistan down to 129th in 2014-15 from 124th in 2012-13. And the Fraser’s Institute report kept Pakistan at 124th out of 167 countries — the same spot it earned in 2013.
The World Economic Forum published its Global Competitiveness report this week, showing similarly weak progress. Three large South Asia Countries were ranked – India at 55th, Bangladesh at 107th and Pakistan at 126th. As compared to the last report, India jumped 16 places, Bangladesh by 5 and Pakistan slipped by one.
Shamama Arbab, Vice President of the Peshawar Women’s Chamber of Commerce (PWCCI) in Pakistan, is both a director of her own business and a tireless advocate for economic inclusion for women in Pakistan. Peshawar is a city where it is often difficult for women to even leave the home alone, so launching and growing a business can seem like a journey too dangerous to consider. Yet given her own success, she strives to provide similar opportunities to other women. She is focused on fostering women’s economic, social and political inclusion, addressing inequality, building an ecosystem in which women entrepreneurs are empowered, and where women can contribute to the country.
Across South Asia, there are women like Arbab who are both inspirational and transformational. They are changing their countries from the inside out by changing the role that women play as citizens. With this blog series, “Exploring the Connections Between Women’s Economic Empowerment and Democracy,” based on a panel at a March 2015 National Endowment for Democracy conference in Delhi, CIPE is highlighting the work of several such women leaders of chambers of commerce and business associations in the region. Having broken through various glass ceilings themselves, these women are now sharing their success by building institutions and mechanisms to support women across the economy, from all walks of life.
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.
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.
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.
Posted on25 June, 2015byGuest|Comments Off on Enhancing Youth’s Political Participation in Pakistan
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.
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.
The CIPE Development Blog provides coverage of the Center for International Private Enterprise and its partner network at work -- highlighting successes, drawing out lessons from failure, and exploring the broader issues of political and economic development. For more information visit CIPE.org.