I wonder what they will see when they look around. Will they see a country teeming with opportunity? Or will they be in a country that does not offer enough jobs and does not provide the needed skills to compete?
Some of them may well be new parents at 28. Will they be able to look at their own children, and see a brighter future for them?
If the country can make the right decisions now, Pakistan can accelerate and sustain growth to become a confident upper middle-income by the time it turns 100. It’s ambitious but possible.
Other countries –South Korea, China, and Malaysia – have transformed their economies within a generation, and there is no reason why Pakistan cannot achieve the same.
The alternative is not inspiring. If the country fails to accelerate and sustain growth as well as control population growth, by 2047 income levels will be close to where they are today and with challenges similar to what they are today.
, and Pakistan competes with the likes of Shanghai or Singapore as a trading hub.
Last month we launched a report, [email protected]: Shaping the Future, which looks at some of the reforms needed to accelerate and sustain growth and transform Pakistan’s economy.
Now is the time to come together and see what needs to be done to achieve this goal. A growth narrative for Pakistan needs to rest on these four elements: investing in people; using resources more efficiently; caring for the environment; and finally, improving how Pakistan is run to support growth and the implementation of difficult reforms.
Any country wanting economic growth to be sustained and fair needs to ensure it has a productive population.
And as importantly, Pakistan needs to make some big decisions on its growing population.
Reducing the birthrate will also be good for the country’s development and allow women to work outside the home if they so wish.
Pakistan’s people are its greatest asset, but only if the country is able to invest a lot more and a lot better in its children.
. Today, Pakistan’s growth story is one of boom and bust.
A few years of strong growth are always followed by a crisis. We are in the middle of such a crisis. To avoid such crises in the future, both the state’s revenue collection and its private sector must be strengthened.
Efforts to broaden the tax net and bolster tax administration will permanently increase tax revenues without continuing to increase the burden on those already paying taxes.
Caring for the environment is a key concern. Water needs to be better managed.
Better infrastructure, management, and pricing that reflects the cost of service and water’s scarcity will go a long way toward improving water efficiency. Efforts will also be needed to tackle air and water pollution, including how we use plastics.
All of these will have to be underpinned by a governance framework that is transparent and fosters accountability in how Pakistan is run. Politicians and public leaders should be more aligned with citizen needs. Too often, we have seen policies being implemented that do not necessarily benefit the general population, but just a few.
Some of the reforms, particularly those that redistribute rents from elites to the general population, will be difficult and encounter opposition.
But, over the past three and a half years that I have been the World Bank’s Country Director for Pakistan, ; A curious, dynamic and impatient youth population that wants to conquer the world; Families that work hard to give their children a better future; A private sector that can be world-class under the right circumstances; A courageous and charitable population that comes together as the need arises.
The need is arising now to chart a new direction for the country. .
This article was originally published in Dawn Newspaper on March 18, 2019.