THE government expects the implementation of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to generate more than 1.5 million jobs on top of about 1.41 million net employment created in the first two years of PML-N rule.

While the outcome of Labour Force Survey 2015-16 is awaited, federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal believes a number of initiatives taken by the government since 2013 were set to translate the population bulge into a massive human asset.

The following are excerpts from the interview Dawn conducted with the minister:

Job creation was one of many election promises of PML-N. Did the government deliver on the pledge?

Yes, the government is delivering on the pledge. Pakistan’s economy has gained more strength during the last three years due to better financial discipline, planning consistency and continuity in economic policies.

The government has focused on youth skill development and Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sectors for giving the youth market-based skills.

Government initiatives like CPEC, macro-economic stability, youth business loan schemes, BISP, Prime Minister’s Youth Business Loan Scheme, Interest Free Loan Scheme to the vulnerable and poor, Prime Minister’s Youth Training Scheme, Prime Minister’s Hunermand Pakistan Programme and Prime Minister’s Youth Skill Development Programme through NAVTTC, Promotion of overseas employment and encouragement of entrepreneurship contributed a lot in achieving the targeted level of employment in the country.

The government is also committed to facilitating women in employment-generation, and 50pc quota is maintained for them in self-employment schemes. Net jobs of 1.41 million have been created during 2013-15.

Labour Force Survey for 2015-16 is awaited. Better energy management is bringing industry back in business which means more jobs. Hopefully that would show further improvement in job creation.

The official rate of unemployment is 5.9pc.


CPEC’s impact on GDP growth would be around 1.5pc which will create around 1.5 million additional jobs according to some estimates


Is this number credible? What did you do to deal with statistical darkness about the most precious resource?

A decreasing trend has been observed in unemployment due to economic stability and corrective measures adopted by the government. The unemployment rate persistently declined from 6.24pc in 2012-13 to 5.92pc in 2014-15, according to the Labour Force Surveys, carried out by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). These surveys are conducted in accordance with international standards and best practices.

There is a perception that the government treats abundant human resource as a liability and not an asset. The neglect of social sector, disconnect between education system and job market and the policy that encourages brain drain are sighted as reflection of the government bent. Any comments?

The government treats human resource as an asset, and not a liability. Due to this very reason, it is mainly focussing on proper education, demand-based training and skill development for gainful employment. This youth bulge has emerged due to higher population growth rate in the past. Therefore, the government has identified the human capital as its first pillar in Vision 2025. Higher education funding has been increased by over 100pc.

Can CPEC be job spinner?

Definitely. Investment under CPEC is expected to be over $50bn. This huge inflow will generate massive economic activities and thereby employment opportunities. It is expected that CPEC’s impact on GDP growth would be around 1.5pc which will create around 1.5 million additional jobs according to some estimates.

Apart from focusing on energy and infrastructure, special economic zones will also be established, which will create job opportunities and bring in technological advancement.

Is there a policy guideline for provinces on employment creation?

Provincial governments are free to devise their own employment policies according to their specific requirement, Labour being a devolved subject. However, NAVTTC, in collaboration with provincial governments, formulates policies for the whole country. Under the national TVET policy, National Skills Information System is being established which possesses key guidelines for the provinces.

Implementation of relevant policies will help in overcoming the skill-related problems of the provinces. In Pakistan, during the last few years, numerous legislations and amendments have been made in relevant laws at federal and provincial levels for the protection of women rights, including enhancement of women quota in government jobs.

Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2017

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