Yet another disaster in the making
Due to the troubled economic situation, decline in the production of export industries and increase in trade deficit, the number of unemployed people in the country is increasing, due to which the majority of the people are expressing pessimism regarding the prospects of improvement in the future.
Many businesses are closing down due to the high cost of doing business and ever-increasing inflation. The worst affected are day laborers who are unable to find employment.
It is high time; the government has to pay extraordinary attention to the employment of people in this situation.
According to a survey report by a research organization, 95 percent of Pakistanis are afraid of unemployment due to the country's conditions, only 5 percent are confident of being jobless. In 2022, 82 percent of people expressed disappointment regarding unemployment. Inflation and unemployment continue to be the top concerns of the Pakistani people, but rising electricity and oil prices have also raised their concerns.
Increase in poverty, load-shedding of electricity, interference of state institutions in each other's work, nepotism, bribery, additional burden of taxes, devaluation of rupee and non-supply of water were also identified as important issues by the voters added to the list.
In the survey, 99% of the people expressed difficulty in purchasing daily goods and 96% of the people did not have the ability to save and invest to meet their financial needs in the future.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) has also projected the number of unemployed people in Pakistan to reach 56 lakh this year, with an increase of 1.5 lakh after 2021.
These figures should be eye-opening for the ruling elite. At present, the real situation is that the industrial establishments are declining, many non-governmental organizations are firing their employees. In a country where more than one-third of the population lives below the poverty line, extraordinary measures are needed to solve the problem of unemployment. Due to the unprecedented economic crisis marked by declining production of export industries, increasing dependence on imports and worsening trade deficit, the number of unemployed people in the country is increasing manifold, due to which the majority of the people are expressing pessimism about the prospects of future improvement.
In the survey, a large number of people have reported the increase in unemployment based on their observation. In fact, the continuous depreciation of the rupee against the dollar, external debt, decrease in production of agricultural commodities due to excesses, floods and rains, continuous increase in taxes, increasing amount of utility bills and many other factors have caused extraordinary negative effects on the economic condition of the country.
And the business and industrial establishments are constantly making noise that their condition is constantly deteriorating. The austerity campaign has to be started in the government institutions themselves. The current situation is that many non-governmental organizations are firing their employees.
Many industries are on the verge of collapse while businesses are close to closing down due to the ever-increasing inflation. The worst affected are day laborers who are unable to find employment. Famines are coming in their houses.
A recent report by the UN, which has placed Pakistan among the lower middle class economies, has revealed that it will be seemingly difficult to seek a well-paid employment opportunities in the new year as compared to last year. Since Pakistan is on the floods plain so it will remain exposed to high risk of natural disasters and the economic meltdown is going to persist, with job opportunities to be difficult task not only at home but also abroad as the world economy is also in recession. As a matter of fact, misfortunes and adversaries never come alone, they say. The same can be applied to current economic scenario of the country, where the common man is beset with a series of adversaries ranging from price-hike to inflation to unemployment, which are breaking their backbone. In fact, unemployment at times of double digit inflation is something that proves detrimental to people from working class strata of the society. Yes, the latest statistics on the genie of unemployment are really disappointing and points to rather difficult times for the masses in the post pandemic situation when food prices have escalated beyond imagination, rupee has lost its worth and inflation is at its peak. What is more painful is that the unemployment rate among degree-holders is almost three times higher than the other overall unemployed workforce. This is attributed to the mismatch between the education being imparted and the need of the economy to sufficiently absorb fresh graduates. But the question is what the government is doing to address this drawback of our education system. Till now no mega plan is in sight to work on increasing employment opportunities for the degree holders.
The irony is that govt does not have an exact number of educated youths as no research was being done at the government level.
According to the government's annual plan, Pakistan has the 9th largest labour force in the world which is increasing with the passage of time. But these claims stand in stark contrast with the ground realities. Pakistan's economy has badly affected by the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic and then floods. This adverse economic situation has resulted in decline of employment opportunities due to halt in various business activities, decline in export and cut in production due to supply chain disruption. All these factors also resulted in increase in unemployment. The unplanned population is also a major factor for unemployment.
The irony is that the government claims to be empowering the poor by provide financing opportunities through banks to the low-income segments of society. But such claims do not hold water in the wake of increasing unemployment of educated youth and with the government inability to provide them with jobs to make them stand on their own feet. Providing a financing is one thing and making the youth standing their feet is totally another.
Published in The Daily National Courier, September, 17 2023