One of the mainstays of any country around the world for economic development is its existing reserves of the natural resources and assets base. Pakistan has plenty of natural resources such as large reserves of oil and gas, great quantity of copper and ore deposits, in addition huge coal and salt pits, and gemstones. Likewise, it possesses sound manufacturing industries of textiles and clothing, steel fabricating, cotton ginning factories, sugarcane mills, sports goods and leather manufacturing etc.
The current account deficit of Pakistan is expected to widen by 2.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2018-19 (FY19), largely on the back of declining exports and widening trade deficit, said the World Bank (WB).
The WB in its latest report, South Asia Economic Focus, predicted that the current account deficit is expected to widen from 1.2 percent of GDP in FY2016 to 2.2 percent in FY2017 and 2.4 percent by FY2019. ‘The key contributor to this will be a widening of the trade deficit due to moderate growth in exports due to weakening of exports competitiveness and global demand and higher growth in imports due increased economic activity’.
Apart from these mineral resources and industries, Pakistan also has vast tracts of agriculture land. Out of total geographical area, about 27 percent is cultivated, and of this, 80 percent is irrigated. Pakistan has one of the most developed irrigation systems in the world, i.e. Indus Basin Irrigation System. We have rivers and sea. We have harbours to export and import goods. We are blessed with four seasons and a fit tropical weather in terms of farming and agriculture.
There is no doubt that Pakistan is a resource-rich country and possesses mineral fuels, manufactured goods and beverage and tobacco (13%). Moreover, the other resources include: food and live animals (11%), crude materials (11%), chemicals (11%), machinery (8%) and miscellaneous articles (8%). In addition, we have 175 billion tons of coal reserve. It is up to 618 billion barrels of crude oil. The natural gas reserves are also in abundance, it’s about 885.3 billion cubic meters.
Despite being blessed with fertile agriculture land, abundance of minerals and sound industrial base, our economic development is not progressing as it should.
The major challenges in achieving economic development are:
The constant leading power cut-off challenge has troubled the economy. Since the year 2000 this curse has wreaked havoc on the overall economy. As admitted by Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif during a National Assembly session a few days ago that the power shortfall has exceeded up to 5,000MW. Until energy lingering crisis is not resolved the determined economic development is a far-off dream.
It is a huge stumbling-block for economic generation in Pakistan. Since 2002 we are a war-torn country. The State Bank of Pakistan report (2016) says that war on terrorism has cost $118 billion. According to Global Terrorism Index (2016), out of 163 countries, Pakistan stands 4th worst hit. This has long been a reason for Pakistan’s negative international image which has limited the foreign investment in the country.
In Pakistan wealth is concentered among a few rich families. The rest of the population is dependent on them. Due to wealth concentration, around 35 percent people spend their lives under poverty line. According to Multidimensional Poverty Index (2016) 39 percent population of Pakistan lives in poverty, which means that 4 out of 10 people in Pakistan live in poverty.
Since 1947, the ongoing corruption has steadily planted its roots. In current circumstances, it has become a highly political debate as even the prime ministers of the country are accused of it. The corruption has proven to be a menace for institutions.
Pakistan scored 32 points out of 100 on the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International. Corruption Index in Pakistan averaged 24.37 Points from 1995 until 2016, reaching an all-time high of 32 Points in 2016 and a record low of 10 Points in 1996.
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