In a briefing on Wednesday about the implementation of the Kamyab Jawan programme launched by the PTI government, the Prime Minister was informed that since the initiation of the scheme, 30,000 youth had applied for loans amounting to Rs53 billion. He was informed that 21 banks were handling the loan advancement and so far, Rs1 billion had been disbursed. The Prime Minister stressed the need for making the youth a stakeholder in the economy by enabling them to exploit their potential.

In regards to encouraging entrepreneurship and employment, the Kamyab Jawan programme—a component of Ehsas programme-- is a very significant step. The loans given under it will help youth to establish small and medium enterprises generating thousands of jobs. The programme funded by UNDP envisages advancing of interest-free loans up to Rs100,000 among the weaker segments of the society in 45 less-developed districts of the country. The other two categories include loans up to Rs500,000 and Rs5 million. The youth will not only be provided money to start their own businesses, they would also be assisted through online feasibility studies carried out by the government to make their choices regarding the type of business they would like to undertake. The other hallmark of the programme is that women will have a 25 percent quota in it.

The Kamyab Jawan programme will be supplemented by the Hunarmand Jawan (skilled youth) initiative which is designed to prepare the youth for employment at home and abroad by imparting training and education in high-tech and emerging technologies. These two measures are essential ingredients of promoting entrepreneurship.

An incisive appraisal of the developed countries reveals that their phenomenal economic growth was propelled by entrepreneurship, which is rightly regarded as a key to economic prosperity. Countries like the US, Japan, Denmark, Germany, Taiwan saw the quintessential role that entrepreneurship can play in the economic development of a country and therefore, are role models for other nations aspiring to achieve self-sustained growth in the ever-increasing competitive global market. Entrepreneurship therefore has rightly been called an engine of growth. In Pakistan, the government employs only 7-8 percent of the labour force. Like all other nations, the only option available to it is to propel economic activity in the private sector through encouraging entrepreneurship in regards to the establishment of small and medium size business and industry by making available necessary resources and technical know-how to the youth entering the labour market. 

Entrepreneurship also serves as a channel for spillover of the knowledge acquired in one organisation and becoming commercialised through innovative activity in a new startup. New startups ensure that the costly inventions and creative ideas created in one industry or business concern are shared, commercialised and converted into innovative pursuits which not only revolutionise those industries but also spur economic growth, job creation and development of a competitive culture within the country.

The youth are the future of the country. Engaging them in productive pursuits and self-employment avenues is the best insurance against poverty and an indispensable guarantee for economic prosperity. The country can move forward only when there are greater employment opportunities in the private sector. The Pakistani youth are around 64 percent percent of the total population and any move that ensures and guarantees their gainful employment is bound to accelerate the process of economic progress due to its multiplier effect besides enhancing tax revenues of the government that this newly initiated economic activity will generate. The measures initiated by the government are meant just for that. The availability of financial resources and technical know-how would enable the youth to start their own businesses. Others would be able to find gainful employment in the country and abroad.

Honestly speaking, the foregoing irreproachable steps not only confirm the commitment and dedication of the PTI government to take care of the poorer sections of the society but also its resolve to implement its welfare agenda irrespective of the economic difficulties faced by the country. The founder of Pakistan also suggested the same recipe in these words, “If we want to make this great state of Pakistan happy and prosperous, we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, especially of the masses and the poor”. To promote the well-being of the people and ensuring increased employment opportunities for them is the prime duty of any incumbent government. The foregoing steps of the PTI government are direction setting initiatives in regards to economic development and job creation.

Perhaps it would be pertinent to also point out that the PTI government, in spite of the difficult economic situation further mauled by the onset of coronavirus, has been successful in creating a balance between the livelihoods of the people and saving lives through its determined efforts. There are very positive indicators in regards to the economy coming out of the woods. The current account and fiscal deficits are down. The construction industry, because of the incentives given by the government, is alive and kicking, ensuring the creation of new jobs. The stock market is on an upward curve, revenues and exports are showing appreciable increase while cement and car sales are also up. No wonder that the international rating agency Moody’s has confirmed Pakistan’s credit rating at B3 with the outlook at stable after it had initiated a review for downgrade in May earlier this year. The rating agency said that it expected Pakistan’s economic growth to be positive around 1-2 percent for the ongoing fiscal year 2020-21 ending June 2021, after experiencing a recession in the fiscal year 2019-2020. That indeed is very encouraging and corroborates the claims of the Prime Minister that the hard days are over and the country is poised to stage a comeback in the economic domain.

Malik Muhammad Ashraf

The writer is a freelance columnist.