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Politics Causes Unemployment
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Politics Causes Unemployment
POLITICS CAUSES UNEMPLOYMENT
By Hans F. Sennholz
[This article first appeared on and is reprinted here with due permission from the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Alabama, USA. Hans F. Sennholz, Professor Emeritus Grove City College and Adjunct Scholar of the Mises Institute, is the winner of the 2004 Gary G. SchlarbaumPrize.]
The ILO (http://www.us.ilo.org/docUploads/empl
trends04.pdf) reports that unemployment worldwide hit a record high last year of 185.9 million people worldwide, or 6.2 percent of the global labor force.
The political class claims to have the answer, but unemployment is not the result of any one cause. It makes its appearance in a great variety of circumstances, some in personal factors, some in economic changes, and some in legislative and regulatory conditions. Throughout the year some workers may appear in the labor market and then withdraw. Students work during the summer and return to school in September. Building and construction activities, logging and lumbering, slaughtering and meat packing are very seasonal and give rise to a considerable amount of temporary unemployment. Similarly, industrial and technological changes may force workers to readjust and relocate. Jobs, wages, and working conditions always point the way.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor keeps careful watch of unemployment and diligently counts the numbers. But in its long history the Bureau has never prepared a systematic collection, organization, and analysis of the unemployment created by labor laws and regulations. Yet this kind of unemployment is more important by far than seasonality or industrial and technological change to which labor markets readily adjust. It is chronic and lamentable as it creates large armies of unemployed, impoverishes many people, breeds discontent, indignation, anger, and, worst of all, being interpreted erroneously, may turn public opinion against the enterprise order itself. In the end, it may even deliver the economy into the very hands that cause the unemployment.
Whenever government forcibly raises employment costs it causes marginal labor, that is, labor that barely covers its costs, to become submarginal. It does not matter whether government orders wage rates to rise or benefits to be improved, the workday to be shortened, overtime pay to be raised, funds to be set aside for sickness and old age, or any other benefit to be granted. A small boost renders few workers submarginal, a large boost affects many. In matters of employment they now are “unproductive” and cannot be used economically.
It is obvious to all but politicians that any worker, male or female, old or young, Yank or Chinaman, whose service is worth only $10 an hour but must be paid $20 or more cannot be employed profitably. He would inflict clear losses on anyone who would hire him, which condemns him to a life of idleness, uselessness, and emptiness. Unaware of the very cause of his affliction, he is likely to take umbrage at society that apparently sentenced him to lifelong unemployment.
American labor laws evoke such feelings every day. At this time they enforce a minimum wage of $5.15 an hour, plus 7.65% payable into a Social Security account, plus 2% to 10% into an unemployment compensation account, plus 10% to 100% for workmen’s compensation which is a fund that pays an employee who is injured in the course of his work. The compensation assessments vary from state to state, but the levies together readily double the employment costs in many occupations.
The Bureau calculates total fringe costs of $5.80 an hour for service workers and $8.73 an hour for construction workers. Skilled and trained workers surely are able to cover their fringe costs by way of takehome-pay adjustment; instead of earning $18.73 an hour they receive only $10. But how can an unskilled service worker who is to earn $5.15 an hour to cover additional fringe costs of $5.80 an hour? He obviously must render services worth at least $10.95 an hour to cover his employment costs. Anyone unable to render $10.95-services cannot be employed productively.
Competition forces many employers to grant additional fringe benefits such as paid vacations, sick days, holidays, health and life insurance, pensions, and other gratuities. Employers may even boast of the benefits which nevertheless are covered by employee productivity, just like the legally required benefits. Highly productive workers may soon cover them, but unskilled minimum-wage workers who expect the same company benefits obviously would be unable to earn them. If there is no demand for their services at $10.95 an hour there will be none at any higher rate.
Chronic unemployment obviously is a political disease that springs from the primitive notion that government can improve everyone’s income and working conditions by legislation and regulation. It is an affliction that stems from misinterpretation and misinformation about work and income and from an undaunted faith in collective force and coercion. It clearly reflects the spirit and mentality of our age. Unless they soon will give way to the spirit of individual freedom and enterprise the rate of unemployment is likely to rise. It may even reach the levels of the old European welfare states, such as France, Germany, and Italy, where unemployment rates usually exceed 10 percent.
There is no ready escape from the consequences of such labor laws. Surely, most young workers are willing and ready to accept employment at honest market rates; they are even prepared to ignore the labor laws and work under market conditions. But most employers do not dare to violate the laws. The penalties leveled at them always are onerous and degrading no matter what their motives may be. Nevertheless economists estimate that some 30 percent of unskilled youths find ready employment in the “underground economy” where wages are paid according to productivity. Many small family enterprises employ and train millions of young people.
In the coming years the rate of unemployment probably will rise as Congress raises the minimum wage, boosts Social Security taxes, and increases the benefits, that is, the costs of labor. But times change; we may learn anew that labor laws that ignore basic economic principles and build on brute force have hurtful consequences.
THE NEWS SPECIAL REPORT ON UNEMPLOYMENT IN PAKISTAN
[The News International, one of the top national English dailies, has been highlighting the problem of rising unemployment in its Special Reports published in the Sunday editions. Below are excerpted some of the relevant sections out of these reports with due thanks to The News and various scribes of the The News.]
OVERVIEW: WHOSE JOB IS IT ANYWAY?
By Nadeem Iqbal
[It is difficult to judge the official performance in the employment area. But it can be safely assumed that the benefits at the bottom end of the trickle down process are minimal.]
Muhammad Akhtar, 28, came to Islamabad from Mandi Bahauddin two years ago. He struggled to land a job until he found work in an office in the Karachi Company area. His job was to clean employees' cars for Rs 150 a day.
For the government this story represents its much touted 'trickle down' theory i.e., economic growth automatically expanding the job market thus alleviating poverty.
There would be experts who would say the theory has worked at least in Akhtar's case. As car production in the country has increased from around 40,000 in the year 2000 to nearly 100,000 at present, this in turn has created a job requirement for Akhtar and others like him.
But there is another side to Akhtar's story. His family owns four acres of agriculture land in Punjab, but as inputs are high and returns of the produce quite low, the family income is inadequate to support a family of seven brothers, six of whom, are married and have children.
"Three of us brothers have moved to bigger cities for better employment opportunities, while the other four have stayed home tilling others' lands on contract," says Akhtar, who is himself yet to get married.
From this second angle, the story provides an example of the shrinking job market in the rural sector that still accounts for almost 70 per cent of employment in the country. These displaced labourers are now not getting jobs in the urban centres of the country.
Official data shows mixed trends although an increase in the overall unemployment rate is evident. According to a labour force survey of the Federal Bureau of Statistics, the rate of unemployment in the country increased from 5.89 per cent in 1998 to 7.82 per cent in 2003.
At present, more than 3.34 million people are unemployed in the country, compared to 3.27 million in 2002. The total labour force in the country is 42.75 million, out of which 3.34 million are unemployed. Out of the total labour force, 29.69 million or 69.45 per cent is in rural areas, and the remaining 13.06 million or 30.55 per cent in urban areas.
According to the survey, the employed labour force in 2003 was 39.41 million, compared to 38.57 million in 2002, showing an increase in employment rate from 2.1 per cent last year to 2.2 per cent in the current year.
The total number of the employed in urban areas has increased from 11.52 million last year to 11.78 million in 2003. Similarly, in rural areas, the number increased from 27.05 million in 2002 to 27.63 million in 2003.
The survey said agriculture sector was the largest employer with 19.08 million workers or 48.42 per cent of total labour force in 2003. It said that about 17.29 million people were employed in the sector in 1998. The government, it said, was taking various steps to create job opportunities to check unemployment. The most important step in this regard is to accelerate the pace of economic activity in the country.
The main Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper evolved early this year is also in sync with this survey. Based on the projected growth rate of GDP for year 2004 to 2006, it is expected that about 3 million more jobs will be created in the country.
According to projected figures for 2005-6, the PRSP says that the GDP growth rates would be 6.1 per cent and the population 157.39 million. The available labour force would be 45.70 million while 42.77 million would be employed and remaining 2.93 million unemployed.
In the year 2004-5 the growth rate is expected to be 5.8 per cent with a 151.66 million population and 44.89 million strong labour force. Of this 41.63 million are expected to be employed and 3.26 million unemployed. 1.07 million jobs are expected to be created through economic growth.
The government claims to have done a lot, but due to a lack of comprehensive data and specific social indicators, it is difficult to judge the official performance or to assess if the government really stands a chance of succeeding in achieving the projected targets.
Interestingly, the Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz told the Senate that the per capita income in Pakistan would reach $600 from $492 during this year. Even with this figure the country would be lagging behind Sri Lanka (per capita $879) and Bhutan ($645). Pakistan is already ahead of India's per capita income of $433.
But given the increasing unemployment rate and in the incidence of poverty, the indication is that income distribution is not uniform among all segments of the society.
Officials in the Finance Ministry tell that the growth in the labour force and employment rate does not mean an improvement in the living conditions of the poor. As no income data of the different groups of people is available, it is difficult to assess the impact of these improvements. It is quite possible with the increase in labour supply, the wages of the workforce might actually be going down.
The government has chalked out a strategy in the PRSP, under which the focus is to boost growth in four labour intensive sectors - the construction and housing sector; export especially high valued agriculture and garments; encouraging small and medium size enterprises; and fourth and increase in the labor-based content in public sector investment, especially in infrastructure like roads, irrigation and rural development.
Similarly, there is an official understanding that non-crop agriculture sub-sectors are more labour intensive where productivity can improve with little capital such as in livestock development, upgradation of fisheries, integrating rural dairy market with urban and export markets and developing food processing industry for exports.
PRSP further suggests that: "Impact on labour demand can also be increased by greater integration between key components of the poverty reduction strategy; building up the physical asset base of the poor; social asset creation for the poor and social safety nets. Khushal Pakistan Program and Tameer-e-Pakistan combines the aims of increasing employment opportunities and providing essential infrastructure in rural and low-income urban areas."
"Micro-credit for the poor will be accompanied," it adds, "by a package of services to borrowers to reduce poverty. In social asset creation for the poor, the scope for employment creation is large. However, micro-finance and SMEs suffer from poor quality and lack of standardisation. Towards this end, cluster approach that provides inter-linkages and scale of economies leading to improved technology and skill is proposed for SMEs restructuring under Asian Development Bank loan. Human development helps in raising the productivity and skill development, which will be getting increased focus under the proposed strategy. In the case of adult literacy programme, teachers recruited from among the educated unemployed from the same areas will teach the poor."
The force mainly deliberated on the linkages between poverty reduction and raising the employment rate by increasing investment. The main recommendation it made was to the government that it should ensure that the national accounts clearly reflect the diversion of 10 per cent of proceeds from privatisation to poverty reduction programmes.
Under the privatisation law, introduced by the military government, 10 per cent of the privatisation proceeds must go for poverty reduction and 90 per cent for debt retirement.
The government, however, never allowed its accounts to reflect as to where the proceeds were going.
EMPLOYMENT: LIVING STORIES
By Alefia T. Hussain
[Is the sheer number of employment opportunity ads evidence of an expanding job market? Economists ask for more.]
"Be a millionaire in two years. Earn up to Rs 40,000 a month."
Occupying the top right hand corner of an English daily, these magical words may finally enable young candidates to realise their ultimate dream of becoming a lakhpati (millionaire).
This is just one example of many ways a 'job opportunity' or to use a dated term 'vacancy' is advertised in newspapers. The more creative ones are: "How does a career in radio 'sound' to you" for an upcoming FM radio station; "Wanted alive: brains that work all day" for an online news agency. But, these are once in a while calls. Those that ring on the regular basis are 'career moves'. Whether "Shimmering and glowing career moves", an invitation to "Join a winning team" or to "Get connected to a promising future", these are the sought-after invites, taken seriously and "applied for in hundreds," remarks a human resources consultant who requests anonymity.
According to him, newspapers are the best way to advertise an opportunity in our society because "we still have to learn the concepts of hunting for jobs online". Also, the in-thing these days is to hire the services of human resources consultants for finding a professional for a specialised job. Candidates are requested to e-mail their resume along with a passport size photograph to one of the many consultants flourishing in the country, providing professional services to either an upcoming telecommunication company or a multinational bank.
So are we learning the tricks of the trade fast? Are the times changing for the better? Is the battle about to be won? The sheer number of ads, "that is increasing at a phenomenal rate," he says, is an evidence of abundant economic activity and expanding job market.
The State Bank of Pakistan's second quarterly review of the fiscal year ending June 2005 statistically confirms this statement. "Revised State Bank of Pakistan forecast indicates that the real gross domestic product growth is likely to fall in the range of 7.4 per cent during fiscal year 2005 up from the 6.4 to 7.1 per cent range projected earlier," the bank declares after assessing the economic growth in agriculture and industrial production. However, the State Bank of Pakistan is concerned about the rising inflation which peaked at 9.9 per cent in February, a seven year high. It increased its projection for the whole year from 7.6 per cent to between 8.2 and 8.8 per cent.
"Just watch what happens next to inflation and interest rates," says economist Majid Sheikh. "If both rise the boom is over. The State Bank of Pakistan has confessed that they are losing this battle. If this is true, and there seems no reason to believe that this is not true, then many more battles will be lost on the way."
He elaborates that "rising inflation means the rupee value will drop; imports will come more expensive and our reserves will dry up quicker, hence the poverty level will increase. With increase in interest rates, we will witness falling investments, hence a rise in unemployment. Theory tells us this, practice tells us this."
In his opinion, increasing inflation, rising interest rates, falling reserves and increasing unemployment is beginning to take effect. "The picture is not as rosy as the government makes us believe."
Before pondering further on the issue of unemployment, Sheikh points out there is a brighter side to the picture as well. "Consider this: the foreign exchange reserves are at a comfortable level, providing the government with ample padding instead of the two weeks worth of imports that we once had. Secondly, till recently, inflation was at a low rate. Thirdly, interest rates were at its lowest, and in line with what they should be. Lastly, investments in textiles and services sector increased remarkably. All these factors helped GDP grow at an annual rate of over 6 per cent."
Having said that, he moves to grimmer realities. "Over half of all industry that closed down is still to reopen. It is a fact that small and medium business plan has failed."
Economist Dr. Faisal Bari agrees with Sheikh. "Small and medium enterprises along with agriculture have the greatest potential of not only generating growth but also creating job opportunities. However, the government needs to ensure that these sectors are free from hassles. At present their direct link to credit and financing is limited. Despite the boom in the economic activity, no growth as such has been recorded in this sector."
These assessments are depressing. If true, what impact will they have on employment generation and human development? We must not forget that Pakistan has many mouths to feed, more families to house, more children to educate and more people looking for gainful employment. 'The Economic Survey of Pakistan 2003-2004' admits that a weak social profile is a waste of human potential. "The present government is fully committed to improve human capital because Pakistan cannot afford another decade of missed opportunities," the survey states.
A daunting task indeed. The government numbers, however, show that there has been a decrease in unemployment. The total number of employed labour force in 2002 is estimated at 38.29 million compared to 37.51 million in 2001 -- an increase of 2.1 per cent. The agriculture sector is the largest employer of labour force in the country, employing 48.42 per cent of total employed in 2002 compared with 47.25 per cent in 1998. The relative share of employed labour force in the services sector that was 16.23 per cent in 1998 has declined to 15.02 per cent in 2002. The share of trade sector has also decreased from 13.87 per cent in 1998 to 13.05 per cent in 2002. However, the share of manufacturing sector has increased from 10.15 per cent in 1998 to 11.25 per cent in 2002. The construction and transport sectors have absorbed 5.78 per cent and 5.03 per cent of labour force respectively in 2002 compared to 6.26 and 5.48 per cent in 1998.
Dr. Faisal Bari acknowledges a substantial growth in industries. "It has slightly expanded the job market." But, according to him, the root of our problem lies in a weak human infrastructure. "We do not have a qualified and well trained workforce - engineers, salespersons, technicians etc."
'The Employment Challenges 2003' by the Human Development Centre stresses on the need "to link education and training to job market in Pakistan and other South Asian countries, to improve both qualitatively and quantitatively its education and training system, including investment to promote new technologies and encourage entrepreneurship."
According to a human resources executive associated with a leading multinational company in Karachi, "for every advertised job opportunity we get applications in hundreds". "There is no shortage of workforce but a serious dearth of skilled workers. Candidates who apply are mostly not groomed for a competitive job market."
He elaborates that an ad that specifically requires, say, a chartered accountant, will invite applications from MBAs too. "Their understanding of business concepts is warped. This is a clear statement on our education system. Consequently, my company now prefers to hire a matriculate and train him from scratch than employ a polytechnic trained person."
Basically, says Majid Sheikh, "we are directionless. Having a banker and a commando at the helm of affairs does not solve problems. We need statesmen who can stick to decisions and not backtrack when the pressure grows." [April 2005]
By Ather Naqvi
[Saturation in the job market calls for keeping pace with education in new disciplines.]
Unlike the 1980s when studying medicine or engineering was thought to ensure one a financially secure future or in the 1990s when business administration offered a viable alternative to the already saturated fields, there is no single field of study today that people can rely on for securing a better job. The present situation of unemployment presents a bleak picture in terms of the number of options available to the unemployed.
The gloom among the fresh graduates notwithstanding, employers and educationists propose that a connection between the taught courses and market demands could make a difference. Steps like proper planning, updating syllabi with current needs and specialisation could turn things around, they say.
Meanwhile the trend of students running after one professional degree continues. While we were lamenting the loss of job market for students holding MBAs, Information Technology (IT) both gained and lost its status as a favourite sector in the recent years. Whatever the truth behind the perception that 9/11 led to the closure of software houses in the country, people have come to believe that an IT related degree is no longer a guarantee for jobs. IT experts believe this can be reversed if we update our syllabi according to the new demands of the market.
"We have to differentiate between an IT professional and an IT literate. Anyone who knows how to use a personal computer or has done a short course is an IT literate while an IT professional is someone having a specialised knowledge in the field. So, it is wrong on the part of someone having done some short courses in IT, to expect a well-paid job," says Dr. Muhammad Anwar-ul-Rehman, Principal Punjab University College of Information Technology. "Today I think it is the telecommunication sector that is likely to create jobs as a lot of work has been done and is being done in telecommunications in Pakistan," he adds.
But Dr. Rehman believes that IT can still be a viable option as far as securing a job is concerned. "International institutions like the WTO and the IMF are pressing the government of Pakistan to switch over completely to e-commerce, e-banking, e-medicine and even e-commuting. We need manpower and experts in all these fields," he says. "But it is only possible if we impart latest IT education to our students in line with the current demands. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, (IEEE), an international technical association, has recommended that the discipline of IT taught all over the world should be updated regularly. We should give serious consideration to such recommendations and see how we can update the courses taught in our country," he adds.
A student today does not know whether he stands a chance of getting a suitable job after he completes his studies. "I think this is a chaotic situation. Even after working hard for years and spending lots of money on education we are not sure whether we will be able to get a job or not," says Muhammad Bilal, a student of Masters in Human Resource Development at the Punjab University.
Bilal says that to avoid this uncertainty, students want to acquire more than one degree. "Many students believe that one professional degree is not enough. For example if I hold an MBA degree, I would also do Law. In that way I may be able to apply in different institutions," he says. "A friend of mine was telling me that to meet one of the WTO regime's requirements a new master's degree in Total Quality Management (TQM) will be introduced very soon in different universities. That will certainly offer new opportunities to students and such professionals will be in demand in big industries," he adds.
Students are convinced that what they are studying will not necessarily earn them a job. One has to undergo a cut throat competition to get 'A' grades. "I know that we need an A+ or at least an A to stand out from the pack and get a reasonable job," says Samreen Zia, another student at the HRD centre in the Punjab University. "And it is quite an unpleasant thing to think that only a small number of us are going to get A+," she adds.
When all the apparent options have been exhausted, there are still some that remain unexplored due to lack of awareness. Maryam Yunus, Assistant Manager Image Marketing TAQ Logistics that provides cargo facilities for big industries says: "Companies like ours that provide cargo facilities are a major source of employment. We have around 500 employees working in various capacities. Unlike companies like TCS and others that provide services for individuals, we only deal with bigger industrial assignments. But few people are aware of such options."
Maryam maintains that logistics is in itself a separate subject that can be taught in the universities and can create jobs in the import, export and cargo sectors. "In my view, logistics should be taught in universities at the master's level so that we get the type of people we require," she says. "We have employees working in sea, air and land freight and that means that there are lots of areas for employment," she says.
Dr. Khawaja Amjad Saeed, Principal Hailey College of Banking and Finance says that one reason why the unemployed have to face difficulties in getting to know of new avenues in jobs is because there is no institutional arrangement for counselling at the government level. There are other problems as well. "We have too many MBAs because of the mushroom growth of unauthorised institutions. Now there are more MBAs than the market can absorb. We have to make sure that this does not happen again," he says. "The export sector is one area that can create considerable number of jobs" he says.
The Institution of Banking and Finance was set up in March 2003 to provide specialised education in the field of banking, finance and international trade. "As I read somewhere 'THE PROBLEM OF UNEMPLOYMENT IS THE PROBLEM OF THE UNEMPLOYABLES', so you have to make sure that you do not create 'unemployables' by teaching them the wrong subjects. That is why we have compiled our syllabus after consulting the stakeholders such as the industrialists and other experts. We have introduced masters in International Trade and WTO, Foreign Exchange, Risk Management and International Marketing. These disciplines are very likely to open new avenues for students," he says.
"After implementation of the WTO regime, the member countries will be required to ensure environmental standards by employing people having formal education in environmental sciences in various industries. That is why we have introduced the Institution of Environmental Sciences in the Punjab University in the year 2000. This is going to be our second batch and we hope that the students taught here will not remain unemployed," says Naveed Ahsan, Assistant Professor, Institute of Environmental Sciences, University of the Punjab.
The absence of employment opportunities has forced many people to think of options other than to look for jobs. "Since I have not been able to secure a job despite having a master's degree in mass communications, my friends and I thought of starting a business. My brother works in Spain and by staying in contact with him online we get orders for garments. We have resolved the problem of capital by sharing the costs as well as the profits," says Wasif Mahmood, a self employed youth.
"It was quite a difficult thing in the beginning, but now our efforts are beginning to bear fruit and the business is running smooth," he says. Wasif is among the many self employed people who have put their talents and energies to good use and are doing good without being formally employed. "If a proper survey is done, it will be found that a lot more people are self-employed than we think," he says. [April 2004]
By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed
[While the trend of employment agencies and portals is catching on internationally, the concept has not yet found popularity in Pakistan.]
Ijaz, 33, experienced a complete transformation in life when he was selected by a California-based IT firm to join its team in the US. Before this break, Ijaz had been working for local firms for measly remunerations and had saved little over his long professional career. This job opportunity presented him with a whole new perspective on life.
"Initially, I didn't take my friends' advice to register with a job portal, monster.com, seriously. For months I tried to put it off, but had to submit my CV on the insistence of my friends. That was a turning point in my life. An acknowledgement followed from the website staff, after which I was asked for my details, a few offers from different companies were put forward, preliminary discussions were held and so on. There were times when I even got disappointed by this apparently futile exercise. But one fine day I was asked by a foreign company to appear before its representative visiting Islamabad. I now work for that company," says Ijaz who is presently back in Pakistan on a short leave.
The case of Ijaz is not a novel one but a few years ago it would have been nothing less than a miracle. "Getting a job in a foreign country a decade or two ago would not have been possible without traveling to that country and searching for the job for a couple of months," says Muhammad Asim who heads the human resource department of an international courier company. He says that with the world becoming a global village and common working standards becoming the order of the day, recruiting horizons have extended far beyond traditional boundaries. Nowadays there are countless job consultancy firms that take care of international staffing problems that demand global solutions. Job portals and recruitment consultants worldwide are on a constant hunt to find the best person available for a job at a competitive salary irrespective of his or her country of origin.
However on the domestic front there is not much improvement and hardly any job portals and employment websites are operating in Pakistan. "A few people tried to develop such job portals in Pakistan but failed to sustain themselves. The reason being that the use of Internet is limited in the country despite the drastic steps taken by the government to promote its use."
Asim says running such portals in our country is next to impossible as no business, however big, is ready to pay for such services. "In developed countries, recruiting consultants work in partnership with their clients to solve their staffing problems. The clients have to pay annual registration fees and the decided service charges once the job is successfully completed. Whereas in our country, the employer sees scores of well-groomed professionals begging for jobs. It does not make business sense for him to pay for something that is available in abundance at his doorstep," he adds.
Azhar Aziz, an MBA from a private university, tells that over the years trends in the job market have changed considerably. Previously people started looking for jobs after completing their education, but now the process starts even before graduating from college or university. "Every other institute is running a career counseling service or managing the data of old students. It is quite often that brilliant students are picked by the employers during internships. Sometimes organizations go a step further and sponsor entire batches on conditions that they would work for them for a definite period after qualifying. But these offers are usually restricted to a couple of prominent institutions. Some employers even mention it clearly in their advertisements that graduates of institutions other than LUMS or IBA need not apply. Similarly the alumni associations of professional colleges ask members to prefer their college fellows when it comes to hiring people for jobs," he says.
Another new phenomenon is that of recruitment firms that seek job aspirants' resumes for their record and promise to find them attractive jobs against 'nominal' service charges. The common practice is that they charge one or a half month's salary from successful candidates. But the problem is that both the employers and job seekers are not satisfied with the services such firms provide. "Most employers are referred candidates who seldom meet job requirements whereas the job seekers are offered highly demanding jobs of sales and commission agents in organisations whose products have little market at all," says Muhammad Naeem whose resume has been lying with a recruiting agent for the last three years. [April 2005]
MARKET: HANDS 'OFF'
By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed
[When macroeconomic clattering is not backed by provision of employment, the common man does not share the official perception of economic improvement.]
Over the last few years, Pakistan's economy has experienced considerable growth and achieved almost all the major targets set on macroeconomic front. Within a short span of time, the bank interest rates have come down, there is immense liquidity available with financial institutions, inflation is reportedly the lowest ever witnessed in Pakistan, exchange rate stable against the US dollar, foreign reserves breaking all records, debt servicing costs at the lowest level in decades, economic growth rate approaching 6 per cent, annual exports set to touch $12b, stock market achieving all-time high levels and what not.
In short, the economy has kind of reached the macroeconomic stability considered vital for economic take-off and prosperity. But what remains there to worry the economic managers is that, despite all these landmark achievements, there has not been a considerable reduction in unemployment figures and poverty. Besides, it seems the economy has been caught in a vicious cycle of low investment, low employment and pessimist mood that is totally independent of the improvements made at other fronts.
Now what good is all this success when it cannot generate an opportunity for people to earn their bread and butter. In Pakistan, the most important but widely ignored indicator is the employment aspect of planning. This indicator is treated very casually throughout the developing world, in spite of its far-reaching socio-economic consequences. This is one big reason why the common man does not share the official perception of economic improvement.
The term unemployment has been used ambiguously and includes all persons who are without work, currently available for work or seeking work, says Ahmed Nabeel, head of operations at Invest and Finance, a brokerage house in Lahore. He says, though macroeconomic stability is a necessary condition for rapid economic activity, it alone is not sufficient to put life into an economy suffering from a declining public investment.
"Though an improved macroeconomic situation is a pre-requisite to trigger economic activity, it is not an end in itself," Nabeel thinks. "In fact, the fight against poverty and unemployment cannot be fought without the help of private sector. It is the private sector, mainly the one related with industry, that generates opportunities. But what's happening in Pakistan is that investment is moving out of production-related activities and is concentrated in fewer hands.
"For example, an industrialist who once provided jobs to hundreds of people finds it convenient to trade in stocks, after shutting down his unit. Real estate, forex trade and prize bonds are a few more options for hassle-free earnings."
Dr Shabbir Ahmed, an assistant professor in economics, tells sometimes macroeconomic figures are misleading despite being real. "The GDP of Pakistan has grown considerably, but this has helped little in reducing poverty and generating employment opportunities," he explains. "The reason being that the distribution of wealth has been unfair. The figures have swelled but wealth has concentrated in few hands, making the rich richer and the poor poorer."
Similarly, Shabbir says increase in exports of Pakistan does not mean that there has been a proportionate increase in jobs. "What has happened is that exporters who were previously running at much less than their capacity, in some cases even less than 40 per cent, have boosted their production. This has hardly stopped layoffs, what to talk of generation of more jobs. And the same goes for the car manufacturing industry that has still not reached its optimum production capacity of 1,27,000 units per year. New jobs are created only when production capacities are increased."
Regarding the oft-repeated government claim that $4 billion have recently been invested in textile sector, Shabbir says this investment has got nothing to do with creation of new jobs. In fact, the employment situation is bound to get worse. "This huge investment has been made by private sector to modernise its machinery, increase its production and improve quality in post-WTO scenario. A spindle in Pakistan is deemed four times more efficient than the one being used in India. This means that consumption of manpower in India will be four times more than that in Pakistan. And in it is a proven fact that increased automation leads to expulsion of manual labour from industrial units."
Availability of excess liquidity with banking institutions and that also at extremely low interest rates is claimed to be another feather in the government's cap. The commercial and investment banks boast of forwarding about Rs 255 billion to the industrial sector in loans, but avoid mention of the fact that financing for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and non-farm agriculture sector has been less than Rs 2 billion.
"It is the SMEs and the non-farm agriculture sector that creates job opportunities. But what is happening in Pakistan is that largescale capital-intensive industries consume the major slice of the cake. If we want more jobs, we must promote SMEs like sports goods manufacturing concerns, embroidery shops and cutlery units. These businesses are set up with small capital but engages more and more people," says Azhar Hussain, a research scholar at Quaid-e-Azam library.
On effects of increased foreign remittances and reduced debt liabilities on employment scenario, he says it is difficult to make accurate assessments as success on these fronts was attributed mainly to post 9/11 world developments. He believes remittances increased as there was no other option left with US-based Pakistanis to protect their life-long savings from being bracketed with al Qaeda. On the other hand, debt liability reduced due to the relief given to Pakistan by creditors in recognition for its cooperation in 'war against terror, he adds.
"Even then we can say that remittances have led to increase in public consumption whereas reduced debt servicing gave fiscal space to the government to spend more and more on development projects. And mega development projects launched by the government do create job opportunities. But their share in the total job bank is very small," he comments.
Azhar says pinning hopes on jobs in the state sector is like living in a fool's paradise. "At present, only the Punjab government has 0.3 million surplus employees. Though their retention means placing a huge burden on the public exchequer, the government cannot lay them off easily due to procedural constraints. To avoid a similar situation in future, most of the new government jobs, if there are any, are being offered on contractual basis only," Azhar comments.
He, however, hopes that a large number of jobs will be created in the health and education sector that are on priority list of the government and international donors. "But in that case, only those people will benefit who already have jobs or job offers. For them, joining government service will just be a matter of choice. Those who are starving and desperately looking for jobs will get nothing but disappointment," he concludes. [April 2004]
EDUCATION: BEWARE OF BANDWAGONS
By Adnan Mahmood
[Professional education in many disciplines has suffered from a lack of quality in Pakistan.]
Salman Quraishi is a 25-year-old computer engineer with a degree from a private computer college in Islamabad. His degree cost him a total of Rs. 350,000 and took him three years to complete during which he stayed in a rented room in Islamabad close to 700 kilometres from his native Multan. Salman graduated a year ago but is still unemployed.
"I am beginning to think I should start working in the real estate business with my father and stop looking for a job in the software industry. Instead of graduating simply in computer studies, I opted for the much tougher BSc in computer engineering, because I thought that would help me get a better job," Salman tells. So far that better job has not materialised but according to Salman, not due to a lack of effort.
"I have tried everywhere, from Islamabad to Karachi, but there are no jobs available. Wherever I go I am told I don't have the academic credentials to get that particular job. I don't understand if I am not qualified even after having spent so much money, I think I have wasted my father's money and my own time," he says.
Professional education in many disciplines has suffered from a lack of quality in Pakistan, but IT is a prime test case where the hype created was found to be largely inaccurate. All the talk of Pakistan becoming an IT giant and taking its IT exports into billions led thousands of young people believing that IT was the next bandwagon to prosperity. This quick-fix solution to the individual's and the nation's economic problems was nothing more than hoax. According to many experts, a lack of quality professionals was the real cause.
Farrukh Latif, who works for a local software house and is a visiting professor at a prestigious university in Lahore, believes standardisation remains the problem. "Every other street in the country houses an IT institution and is issuing degrees and diplomas at will. These graduates will never find any work in any of the industry simply because they are not good enough. Everyone in Pakistan keeps saying there is a huge reserve of qualified human resource in the country that is unemployed. I disagree. We need to first define what 'qualified' means. If a professional does not have the desired understanding of his related discipline no one will consider him to be qualified and he won't find a job, no matter what his degree says," says Farrukh.
According to him when the company that he works for interviews people for hiring, he comes across so many who have a lot of potential and important-sounding degrees, but they know little about computing. "It is sad. These people are pursuing a dream. They have been made to believe that they can purchase degrees off the shelf which will open doors of prosperity for them but this is not true."
Farrukh says the industry needs qualified professionals but there are not enough good institutions to produce enough people with the required set of skills. "The really good institutions whose students are any good are really expensive and the people who graduate from such institutions usually have the means to move to the developed markets of the world for masters or Phd and then to ultimately find work on the basis of their foreign qualification. The industry back home then has to resort to hiring those graduating from marginally better universities. This leaves graduates from unrecognised institutions with absolutely no chance of being employed."
Bilal Mustafa Kaifi, an IT consultant and another professional who has taught computer science, says the industry also has a role to play in improving the situation. "The industry in Pakistan is not mature enough to play a part in producing a better crop of professionals who can take the industry to the glory promised over the years of hype created around IT-induced economic growth. What is lacking in educational institutions is research which cannot be carried out without active participation of the industry - something the industry has not done up till now," says Bilal.
Bilal believes if research becomes a regular feature in IT institutions, a lot of their problems will disappear. "Retaining any meaningful faculty is one of the biggest problems for IT institutions because these institutions require a faculty that is in touch with the latest advancements in the industry. The industry people then will only have an interest in teaching if there are opportunities to research and grow, otherwise they make more money in the industry than they will ever make while teaching. Secondly research also exposes students to the best available resources in the world and improves their learning capabilities that are invaluable in the work environment," Bilal says.
Bilal also advocates a role for the government. "The government needs to introduce an incentive based approach to encourage better working ethics both in educational institutions and industry players. They should design metrics on the basis of research, job placement, faculty and technical facility for institutions and investment in education through time, expertise and research opportunities for industry players."
Farrukh says it is true that the industry should play a role in educational reforms to solve its own problems, but says such expectations can only be made from the industry in idealistic situations. "The industry in Pakistan has peculiar problems of its own to take care of. We don't have it that easy and cannot divert any resources towards educational reforms no matter how badly we want to." [April 2005]
By Aoun Sahi
[People with [WINDOWS-1252?]different problems but with the same cause – unemployment.]
It is difficult in Pakistan to point out a specific section of the society where unemployment is more prevalent than the other sections. The problem exists for all kinds of people, whether educated or uneducated, skilled or unskilled, men or women.
According to the economic survey of Pakistan more than 30 per cent of Pakistan's total population is living below the poverty line and almost 35 per cent of the country's youth is unemployed. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimated in a report that out of Pakistan's 40 million work force, almost 14 million is living in working poverty i.e. they work but earn less than $1 a day.
Amjad, 24 comes from a poor background in Mandranwala, a village in Sialkot district. "I am skilled in using the hammer in a furnace and used to work 12 hours a day. I was quite well known amongst the kiln owners of my locality for my skills and I considered myself lucky for having acquired this skill instead of wasting my time in education. Then one fine day along came a new machine in the kiln industry and apparently this machine could do my job better than me and my services were no longer required at the factory. I had been working with the hammer since childhood, and the arrival of a machine destroyed my entire livelihood. I do not know why the government allows machines that cause unemployment for the country's people," he says.
"Now I am jobless and am ready to do anything to survive but I have been unable to find any work for the last six months. Imagine raising a family without any source of income. I do not know what to do and the thought of killing myself has crossed my mind but the poor faces of my family have stopped me till now from going ahead with it. Let's see for how long will they be able to stop me," he adds.
In villages most young people are uneducated and unskilled and permanent jobs are largely unheard of. An average family consists of 7 to 10 members, with only one or two of them contributing towards the household's income.
Unfortunately, unskilled and uneducated people are not the only ones experiencing unemployment as the educated are suffering from the same problems. "I completed my MCS from a private college in Lahore last year and the two and a half year degree cost my parents almost Rs. 0.6 million - their entire life savings. I am the only brother of four sisters and everyone thought I would get a job immediately after graduating. I don't have the heart to tell them that I might never be able to fulfill their desires. I have applied for more than 35 jobs with no positive response. Now after having wasted two years of my life, I am trying to go abroad, because in Pakistan you do not need to have the potential or the degree for a job, but a strong reference," says Arif who belongs to Sargodha District
This young man is starting out a life and is hoping for a better turn of events soon, but there are others who have seen major success in their lives and are now out of work.
"It is hard to tell people that once you were a millionaire and now you do not have even a penny in your pocket and need a job badly. Two years ago, I owned a stitching unit and a big garment shop in Shah Alam market Lahore and employed many servants. Unfortunately I was caught in the vicious cycle of interest and lost every thing in just two years. Now I don't have enough money even to travel on public transport and have to travel miles on foot. I tried my level best even to get the job of a salesman but there is no vacancy," says Raja Abdur Razaq.
In these circumstances where some of us are willing to do any kind of job that comes our way, there are also certain people who actually quit their jobs just because they do not like it or the environment of the organization. "I did my MBA from the Institute of Business Administration, University of the Punjab Lahore, and got a good job in a well reputed organization within a week of completing my degree. My pay was also in four figures, which was a good start. But I resigned just after two months because of the nature of the job and the behavior of my seniors towards me. Now I am jobless, but have no regrets. I have two more offers but now I will not make a hasty decision until I get a job of my choice. I have no pressure from my family because they have confidence in my ability. I know that the conditions are very bad in the job market but no one can keep a talented person out of job for long," says Muhammad Ijaz from Lahore. [April 2004]
By Ather Naqvi
[There is no dearth of people who are exploring new avenues in the job market and no dearth of people who have the energy to perform two, maybe three tasks at once.]
It took Umair Ahmed, 27, about three years to realise that there was no such thing as a 'dream job'. Today, he agrees that his job is 'not that bad' in terms of earnings. Umair joined as an operator at a Lahore call centre four months ago, and earns around Rs 8,000 a month. "I have been giving tuitions, teaching at private schools and have worked as a salesman at a departmental store, before I landed here. I think I have got the best that I could in the circumstances. I can grow here."
Umair holds a master's degree in Economics.
There is no dearth of people who are exploring new avenues in the job market. "Telecom is a relatively new sector. As more and more multi-national telecom companies are investing in Pakistan a considerable number of people will get jobs," hopes Zafar Bukhari, who holds a degree in business administration.
Bukhari has been recently employed by a telecom company in Lahore. "There is competition between telecom companies, and it is expected that these companies will be offering competitive salary packages to their employees, he says .”Good for us."
Bukhari believes it is not the question of choice in the job market. "The ideal job is the job that you manage to land," he says. "It's about what options you have."
Bukhari says that private sector is expanding and people are switching over to jobs which they did not aspire for at the beginning of their careers. "I have a friend who was a practising doctor only months. He wound up his practice and joined a business firm as a partner. I know people who are doing three jobs at a time."
Some jobs are specific to an area. "Hyderabad is famous for making bangles. So bangle-making is that attracts job seekers. Then in Hala, for example, we have handicrafts as a popular business," Syed Kamran Haider, regional business coordinator, SMEDA Hyderabad, tells. "There are different sectors which are offering jobs to the people. In the interior Sindh, for instance, anyone who is ready to take calculated risks can borrow some money from the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (SMEDA) to build a fish farm or a poultry farm." But Haider says not everybody can take this risk.
Haider says IT has swept aside all other sectors in recent times. "Karachi is the hub of IT related firms and business concerns. Call centres have also sprung up in the city." Haider agrees that still the IT sector cannot absorb the growing number of the unemployed educated for the IT sector.
The same happens to be the case in the industrial sector. However, the Punjab government believes that within a couple of years time there will be a shortage of skilled manpower for the industrial sector in Punjab. "In about two years' time the three proposed industrial estates in Punjab will start operating. There is going to be one in Lahore and two in Faisalabad," says Tahir Hussian, deputy secretary (admin), Ministry of Industries Punjab. "I think a large number of the unemployed MBAs in the Punjab will get jobs in the industry, working as general managers etc. The industries will require thousands of MBAs. They may even require more MBAs than we have today," he says.
There are organisations which are an indirect source of employment generation, quite favourite with the prospective employees. Hamid Naved, Head country policy unit, Asian Development Bank, says that while the bank does hire directly, it is an indirect source of employment generation. "We offer the government various development loans for projects that need employees, from a well paid project manager to a labourer. Though such jobs are just contractual, these matter to the people since working on an ADB sponsored project adds to the portfolio of say an engineer or a manager." [April 2005]
Letters from the Press
RESPECT PEOPLE’S FREEDOMS
[Raziq Hussain, Wah Cantt]
A news item reported the Council of Islamic Ideology as saying, “basant and Valentine’s day do not conform to Islamic values. They should not be celebrated at a national level, at least not under the supervision of government.”
What does the Council of Islamic Ideology have to do with basant, Valentine’s day and other such matters? The logical point is that the government should not promote faith based events and institutions. The Council of Islamic Ideology is one such institution, which is uselessly devouring resources and contributing nothing to the country’s progress.
It normally comes up with nonsense issues, prohibiting this and that, and declaring everything inconsistent with the values of Islam. It assumes that values are something static, totally ignoring the fact that values are fluid in nature, and prone to change with time. It has never drawn a conclusion that values should be consistent to the ever-changing world, not the other war around.
The government should respect the choices of its citizens, and not become a moral authority to prohibit them from celebrating basant, Valentine’s day or other festivals. Rather, it should make efforts to amend the constitution and properly legislate to rid the people of their shackles, giving them liberties that are their right. The government is not there to curb the people’s freedoms but to extend and protect them.
MR AZIZ'S 'TEN GIANTS' DREAM
[S.M.F. Hasan, Lahore]
The prime minister has been unceasingly repeating claims of rapid economic growth and predicting that Pakistan will soon be included in the prestigious club of ten economic giants in Asia.
But the latest UN economic and social survey, while comparing the growth in GDP of SAARC countries, shows Pakistan at the lowest level, with only 1.2 percent, against India's 3.4 percent and Bangladesh's 3.1 percent. How can a country, which is at the lowest level even among the poor countries of SAARC rapidly develop into one of the ten economic giants of Asia? This is totally incomprehensible.
The prime minister should either immediately justify himself or support his position with facts and figures, with reference to the UN report. [The News]
"MONITORING" THE PRICE HIKE
[S. M. F. Hasan, Lahore]
The current 13 per cent inflation in Pakistan is of the government's own making. When the economic policies of a country are determined by international vested interests through their agents at all points, the ultimate sufferer is invariably the common person, who counts for little in an oligarchy.
In spite of repeated warnings from experts, the government has been persistently following economic policies leading to industrial stagnation, rising unemployment and decline in the purchasing power of the people. Inflation is now transformed into stagflation, which is more difficult to bear for the common person.
The constitution of a committee to "monitor" the prices of essential commodities, without any measures by the government to reverse the real causes of inflation, is just like "monitoring" people drowning in a flood. The government should not add insult to injury by such senseless measures as constituting impotent committees on the rising prices. [The News]
TIGHTEN YOUR (SEAT) BELT!
[Syed Amer Ali Shah, Abbottabad]
The economy is at the stage of takeoff, but most of us are finding it hard to make ends meet. How many of us will survive the impact when it actually does take off? [The News]
AN APPLE A DAY
[Rafi Adamjee, Karachi]
The Senate and the OCAC are contemplating a new strategy to adjust POL prices every day. This step would reduce the fortnightly intravenous dose into a daily shot. In the US, which imports oil at the highest prices, pump rates are $1.50 per gallon which comes to Rs20 per litre. So it seems the government here is taxing upwards of 100 per cent.
The point to ponder is that will the pump owners incur loss when prices are reduced? and, secondly, will the government reduce POL prices when crude rates drop? Or will they continue to give one lame excuse after another?
The government should reveal the table which shows how prices are calculated and what taxes are charged, so that the layman can calculate the expected charges. Considering the economic impact of this vital fluid it is expected that future prices will be adjusted justifiably and, if possible, the back-breaking petroleum levy will be reduced to saner levels. [Dawn]
SOARING INFLATION DUE TO FUEL PRICES
[Noorulain Hussain Ali, Karachi]
Prices, particularly those of all items of daily use, keep going up. The main cause for the increase is the cost of fuel. In the past one year, the fuel prices have increased by over 40 percent. I have just returned from Syria and saw that the price of diesel oil was 7 liras per litre (equivalent to Rs8/ltr), and Syria is not oil rich countries and relies completely on imports. We are luckier, because we produce about 35 percent of the oil consumed. If the government decides to bring down the price and make it more affordable, the cost of transportation and energy will also come down accordingly, which will greatly help to curtail inflation. [The News]
[M. Akram Saqib, Sahiwal]
There are clearly two opinions on the state of poverty in Pakistan. Official sources say that everything is all right while the opposition says the condition of the people, has worsened.
Two trends are emerging. Prices of everyday commodities are rising while those of luxury goods are going down. Bread could be had for 50 paisa only 10 years ago. A TV set was Rs 12,000. Now a "roti' sells for Rs 3 and a colour TV set for Rs 7,000-8,000.
Necessities of life such as food and healthcare are expensive and non-essential things are cheap. The cost of living has increased manifold but salaries have stood still.
A labourer can hardly earn Rs2,000-3,000 a month. The facts and figures released by the government are not directly related to the common folk. If the stock market goes up or comes down, it is not likely to affect the poor. If foreign exchange reserves increase to a million dollars, what affect will that have on poverty alleviation?
The same is the case with many other economic indicators. Jugglery with statistics cannot make the people rich nor can it pull them up above the poverty line. Real economic growth depends on the prosperity of the common people and that seems to be nowhere in sight. [Dawn]
TAX ONLY TAKE-HOME SALARY
[L. Ali, Islamabad]
Certain amounts of salaried person employed by the government on contributions towards benevolent funds, group insurance and house rent charges on account of government-provided accommodation are deducted at source and are not part of the take-home salary of a government servant.
However, according to existing income-tax rules these amounts are included in the income of an employee for calculation of chargeable tax on the income, which is not justified. Since the amount deducted on this account are not part of the take-home salary of a government employee it should be exempted from income tax. [The News]
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Sir: Most economists criticise consumer financing by banks and other financial intermediaries because they think that by focusing on consumption, banks are doing a disservice to future generations. They hold that this will compel future generations to tighten their belts. This view is partially correct but I think it misses a very important point.
Most underdeveloped countries have vast amounts of unutilised resources, human and physical. It implies that an increase in aggregate supply is possible with little or negligible increase in prices. If financial institutions shift future aggregate demand to the present through consumer financing this is still an increase in resource utilisation and this boosts present production, investment and national income. This will help our economy achieve its potential level of output and reduce unemployment. [Daily Times]
[Karimullah Adeni, Karachi]
There has been a lot of talk about the protection of intellectual property in Pakistan. But the World Intellectual Property Organization decided to observe April 26 as World IP Day, not many showed an interest in the event.
Why is it that people do not show any interest in something that is very crucial to our country's development? Perhaps people do not understand the link between IP and a society's progress.
All the inventions and the artistic creations that we see around us are intellectual property. The shoes that we wear, the ice cream that we eat, the bus that takes us to our place of work, these are creations of the human intellect, and are thus intellectual property. There may be creations of many kinds, but minus their physical aspect these things are all IP.
In Pakistan, we have laws for three main types of intellectual property: patent, copyright and trademark. Whenever a scientist or an inventor comes up with an invention or an innovative idea that would lead to improvement in human life, we acknowledge his or her work by granting that scientist the right to commercially use the invention for up to 16 years. This right is called "patent".
The Pakistan Patent Office works under the federal ministry of industries since it is industrial progress that the patent system promises. So it is with artistic or literary work, be it in the realm of music, fine art, dance, drama, architecture or design.
The moment an idea is documented in any manner, it becomes the copyright of either the person who created it or the person who hired the creator. A copyright office under the federal education ministry exists to oversee the proper implementation of the copyright laws.
The violation of copyright is a criminal offence. It is theft. In Pakistan, such piracy is widespread. A large number of IP violations in our country infringe upon the copyrights of the local people. We are discouraging our own creative people from coming up with beautiful ideas just because their creations are not protected properly.
The third kind of IP that is practised in our country is trademark. A trademark is a commercial identity. It is the link between a product and its producers. It is the only way a consumer can learn about the people behind the product he is using. There is a trademark registry in the federal commerce ministry.
Pakistan today needs a proper IP order, not to appease any so- called "foreign masters," but to strengthen the creative process of its own people. This year's message theme for the World Intellectual Property Day is think, imagine, create.
The only way to do that is to strengthen the IP order. We should evolve a system of documenting our innovations so that the right of our patent creators are not flouted. And we must register our trademarks so that our creations can reach our people, and the system can properly reward the creators. [Dawn]
[Muhammad Azhar Khwaja, Lahore]
According to a news item, the Punjab government has entered into the cinema business and established an entertainment company as a part of a new scheme. The first project is be to set up an I-max theatre and an entertainment complex at the huge cost of Rs 800 millions on MM Alam Road. This when there are already so many entertainment and historical places in Lahore. This money could be diverted towards the education or health sectors, or used in developing the same area into a park (which would cost far less than). We badly need health and education facilities for our poverty stricken nation.
As far as constructing an I-max theatre or an entertainment complex is concerned, its necessity must be discussed in parliament, as it involves taxpayers' money. Then we have to look at the Islamic angle, or is this part of enlightened moderation? We live in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and let's not do things that are clearly prohibited by Islam, unless we desire God's wrath. Let's not sacrifice Islamic values for the sake of showing a false, softer face of Islam (aka enlightened moderation). [Daily Times]
LEAVE THE RELIGION COLUMN BLANK
[Fayyaz Mahmood, Lahore]
While liberals think religion is a personal matter, the orthodox want to have it officially stamped on his travel document. In this time of enlightened moderation the real moderation would be to have a blank column about religion of the bearer in the passport.
If the bearer of the document wants to declare his faith, he should have it inscribed therein. Alternatively, if the bearer thinks his religion is a personal and private matter then he should be allowed to opt for non-disclosure, in which case this column should be left blank. Perhaps this would be the most non-offensive way to get around this problem. [The News]
[Tahir Rahman, NWFP]
The President of Pakistan was received and driven in a Maruti car when he reached Ajmer Sharif. I was just wondering how embarrassed and belittled he must have felt while sitting in that dinky! [The News]
GENERAL MUSHARRAF: PAKISTAN NEEDS TAILORED DEMOCRACY
Addressing the Philippine Congress, President General Musharraf has said, democracy in the true sense of the word is now firmly rooted in Pakistan. It is very ironic though, I do understand that I being a man in uniform is talking of democracy and talking of restructuring and reforming and introducing sustainable democracy in Pakistan. But I am convinced that democracy is the future of Pakistan. He added, It has fallen on my lot to tailor it to the ground environment so that it remains sustainable and does not get disrupted in the future. He did not elaborate on what he meant by tailoring democracy.
FEDERAL MINISTERS TO GET RECRUITMENT POWERS
A new law has been introduced in the National Assembly to enable all the 62 ministers of Shaukat Aziz cabinet to directly recruit thousands of people in BPS-11-15 in their respective ministries and divisions without the intervention of Federal Public Service Commission.
BILL BRINGS MORE PERKS FOR MPs
The National Assembly has passed two bills that empowered ministries to directly conduct recruitments and asked for increase in perks and privileges of the legislators during its session boycotted by the opposition. The Minister for Parliamentary Affairs moved the Federal Public Service Commission (Second Amendment) Bill 2005 and the Members of Parliament (Salaries and Allowances) Bill 2005. The first bill authorized ministries to recruit staff directly in basic pay scales 11 to 15 instead of Federal Public Service Commission. The second bill states that salaries, allowances and privileges of the parliamentarians shall automatically be revised along with the revision of emoluments of the civil servants.
EQUAL DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH STRESSED
The Director General of Asian Development Bank, Kunio Senga, has underlined the need of ensuring equitable distribution of wealth following the rampant economic development which is creating new GDP space.
IDBP DIRECTED TO SUBMIT DATA ON WRITTEN-OFF LOANS
The Senate Standing Committee on Banking and Finance has directed the management of the Industrial Development Bank of Pakistan to immediately submit the details of all loans sanctioned, re-scheduled and written-off by the bank during the last three years to the Senate.
RS1.8BN SPENT ON LUXURY VEHICLES IN THREE YEARS
The National Assembly was informed that the government had spent Rs1.8 billion to purchase 43 luxury vehicles, including latest models of Mercedes Benz, over the past three years. The record showed that Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had sanctioned the purchase of 22 latest Mercedes Benz, which were bought in the first two months of 2005. The 2005 model Mercedes Benz purchased during January and February included 10 M/Benz G500, 10 M/Benz S600L, and two M/Benz S500L (Pullman). Four Toyota Corollas were also purchased during 2005.
PROVINCIAL GOV WANTS RIDE ON MERCEDES BENZ
The Balohistan government has formally moved a case for permission from Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to purchase two bullet-proof Mercedes Benz. Security of VVIPs and dignitaries has been given as reason for buying the bullet-proof Mercedes Benz that cost several times more than the ordinary one.
GWADAR MADE TAX-FREE ZONE
The cabinet committee on Gwadar has declared the port city of Balochistan tax-free zone for 30 years and said that no tax on businessmen would be imposed in Gwadar industrial zone and would provide excellent facilities to them to attract massive investment from within the country and abroad.
GOVERNOR SBP: POOR WORST AFFECTED BY INFLATION
The Governor State Bank of Pakistan has said that the poor and fixed income groups have been adversely affected by the inflation that became quite intense during the last nine months.
IMPORT DUTY ON CARS MAY BE CUT
The Minister for Industries, Production and Special Initiatives has hinted at reducing import duty on new vehicles to create balance in supply and demand.
CAR PRICES INCREASED
Another big car assembling company has increased prices of its vehicles by Rs.30,000 to Rs.50,000 per unit with immediate effect.
PAKISTAN ASKED TO CURB PIRACY
The American Center Director Rex Meser has said Pakistan should implement copyright laws to curb piracy of books. He added keeping in view India and China’s book industry, Pakistan’s share in piracy business might be well below the stated figure of 52 million dollars. He was of the view that 52 million dollars might be a correct figure if it included price of CDs and other audio material.
5,000 SINDH SCHOOLS CLOSED
The shortage of primary school teachers has caused closure of at least 5,000 public sector schools in the Sindh province.
DENATIONALIZATION OF SCHOOLS ORDERED IN SINDH
The Sindh Chief Minister has instructed that the nationalized schools in the province should be handed back to their owners, and retired teachers be hired to promote literacy in rural areas.
TRADE WITH CHINA: ROLE OF PRIVATE S ECTOR DISCUSSED
The Federal Minister for Railways held a meeting with Mumtaz Bakhtawar Memorial Trust Hospital and Guard Group Chairman and discussed the role of private sector to promote trade with China.
CM FOR PRIVATE-PUBLIC PARTNERSHIP IN FORESTRY
The Punjab Chief Minister has said the concept of public-private sector partnership and community participation is being given a practical shape in tree-plantation as forests play a key role in overcoming environmental pollution and economic growth.
PEMRA DG: INDIAN, VULGAR CHANNELS TO BE BANNED
The Director General Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Haji Ahmed Malik has said all the foreign channels including Indian would be strictly banned after approval of Pemra Amendment Act 2004 by the National Assembly. Addressing a press conference, he said the bill has been presented in the National Assembly that would be approved in its upcoming session. We have recommended 27 amendments in Pemra Ordinance which are all related to electronic media and further empowerment of Pemra, he informed, and said after the approval of the bill, Pemar could raid the offices of cable operators broadcasting illegal, immoral and banned channels and seize their equipment besides imposing fines on the owners.
LIBERTY: THE SOUL OF US SOCIETY!?
Delivering a special lecture on “Governing America in the 21st Century Conflicting Interests and Contesting Values” in Lahore Professor Ted G. Jelen of University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has said that individual liberty and human rights are very important in the American society and these are provided to every citizen.
News from the other Side
CHINA RESPONSIBLE FOR ENERGY CRUNCH!?
China’s fast growing economy is largely self-reliant in energy and is not to blame for a crunch in world energy supplies, the country’s top state planner clarifies. Some have pointed to rising demand from China as a contributor to high oil prices but Ma Kai said the country was 94 % self-sufficient in energy last year helped by its huge coal industry. China was looking for more energy supplies at home to meet its growth needs and there were enough resources to support this, Ma said. China is largely dependent on coal to drive its economy, the world’s seventh largest, and Ma pointed to abundant recoverable coal reserves of more than 140 billion tones. Coal accounted for about 67 % of China's energy consumption and 76 % of energy production, he said. China was trying to save energy and develop other sources such as nuclear, wind and hydro power generation to reduce its reliance on coal, Mai added. The worst power crunch in two decades hit China last year. More than two-thirds of its provinces suffered electricity blackouts and coal ran short amid soaring demand for energy. Shortage continue in Southern China this year with projection for a national shortage of 23,000 megawatts this year down from 40,000 megawatts last year.
Last edited by Shooting Star; Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 01:34 AM.