ISLAMABAD     -    Despite challenges on the economic front, the government is optimistic to achieve its target of providing more than 10 million jobs during the five years tenure. The target, they say, is to be achieved through mega projects under 2nd phase of CPEC and development of SEZs in different parts of the country for introducing industrialization and trade culture in the country. Five million low cost housing project, “Kamyab Jawan Programme”, CPEC phase-II, agriculture sector development and other policy initiatives such as shifting focus from trade to manufacturing sector, and private-public partnership are some of the glimpses of government’s efforts in achieving the target.

The government however thinks that Pakistan would be facing a hard time for around six to 12 months and then the economic growth would gain momentum in the following years. “But the good thing is that despite low growth, the government is making proper management and policies to create the required jobs”, Advisor to PM on Finance, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said this while addressing a press conference recently.

“We will try to complete the stabilization period of Pakistan’s economy as soon as possible in less than a year and then we will gain momentum in coming years with high growth rate and improved economic activities”, the advisor mentioned. A mega project of housing sector to construct five million housing units will involve more than 28 different sectors and obviously it would create hundreds of thousands of new jobs for skilled and unskilled youth besides ensuring a lot of business opportunities in the country, Hafeez Sheikh said. The housing project has already hit the ground as the government has acquired land in different provinces and once the financing mode of the project is finalized, it would gain strength in next fiscal year.

As per data available, the previous two governments’ statistics make it clear that the economic growth is not necessarily linked with job creation. During the Pakistan Peoples Party tenure (2008-13), the average growth rate was recorded at 2.8% however the number of jobs created was 6.9 million while the government of Pakistan Muslim League (N) govt (2013-18), created even lower jobs (5.7 million) despite comparatively higher growth of 4.8%.

“Kamyab Jawan Programme” is the government’s flagship programme under which a huge number of unemployed youth would get loans ranging from Rs 100,000 to Rs 5 million to establish small businesses. A hefty amount of Rs 100 billion is being earmarked for this programme. “This programme will not only help young people to get loans for establishing their own businesses but it will also enhance entrepreneurial culture in the country and more people would be encouraged to have their own businesses rather than seeking jobs”, veteran trade leader and founder Pak-US Business Council Chairman Iftikhar Ali Malik said while talking to this scribe.

Agriculture sector is a potential area for producing hundreds of thousands of jobs which remained neglected for decades. However the incumbent government has planned an ambitious package for the sector costing Rs 286 billion on 13 projects during next five years.

Minister for National Food Security and Research Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan recently pointed out that as per the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, growth in agriculture sector would sprout from its historic lows to new heights.

The government is also giving priority to the manufacturing sector on trading as the manufacturing sector act as engine of growth for the economy.

“Manufacturing sector will witness a mushroom growth after establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and will help create thousands of new jobs specially for youth of the country,” Iftikhar Malik said adding that once the industrial zones are established, the country’s exports would also go up.

The second phase of CPEC has just started under which a number of new projects are in the pipeline and one of the major project among them is the $8 billion Main Line 1 Railway project for up-gradation and dualizing of railway line from Karachi to Peshawar. This project will also engage a huge number of new jobs.

The government is also planning to collaborate with the private sector and will give incentives in shape of tax breaks to those private companies who will hire more people in their companies.

Increasing development budget is another source of creating jobs and the government has increased the allocation under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) from Rs 675 billion to Rs 925 billion in next year.