KARACHI: Factory owners appear divided over the claims of 5.5 million new jobs created by the PTI government, as they believe that textile and construction have mainly led to the opening of huge new employment opportunities while hiring of fresh blood in other sectors has remained insignificant.
Talking to Dawn, chairman of the Pakistan Association of Automotive Parts and Accessories Manufacturers (Paapam), Abdur Razzak Gauhar said, “The auto vending industries have not seen new job openings due to the non-development of any new parts.”
He said new entrants have been enjoying a honeymoon period due to the negligible usage of locally made parts in the vehicles under Auto Policy 2016–2021, which they would continue for a few more years, which means a bleak scenario for new jobs in the vending industry.
Mr Guahar said the localisation levels of existing assemblers are also low, while the assemblers have made significant profits in the last one and a half years. He added that the massive increase in imports of completely and semi-knocked down (CKD/SKD) kits by the local assemblers is enough to justify low localisation by the new and existing assemblers. The issue of transfer pricing by the assemblers and not sharing profit with the vendors also causes anxiety among the vendors.
The Paapam chief said a few jobs have emerged after the start of local assembly of vehicles by the new entrants as well as in the existing units after the introduction of new models and model changes, but these numbers do not hold any weight.
In contrast, the CEO of Indus Motor Company Limited (IMC), Ali Asghar Jamali, said the auto sector has grown to 300,000 units by 2022 from 150,000 units in 2019.
He claimed that “each vehicle has created at least six additional jobs,” adding that the entire auto sector has seen an additional 700,000-900,000 jobs in the last few years due to the boom in various auto segments.
Senior Vice Chairman Pakistan Mobile Phone Manufacturers Association (PMPMA), Aamir Allawala said 50,000-60,000 new direct and indirect jobs have been created from June 2020 to date in 20 new cell phone manufacturing units and their offices.
President Employers’ Federation of Pakistan (EFP), Ismail Suttur said “the claim of the PTI government of providing 5.5m jobs in 3.8 years definitely holds a lot of weight.”
He said construction and its allied industries were at a dead end at the start of the PTI government in August 2018, but they were rebooted in the next eight months after a series of incentives given by the government. “I am certain that the share of the construction sector in the 5.5m jobs is 30–40 per cent,” he added.
He also stated that the textile sector hired a large number of new workers as a result of massive orders received by textile exporters and impressive local sales. “The share of textile jobs is also 30pc of the 5.5m jobs,” Suttur claimed.
Surprisingly, the new job opportunities were created during the Covid-19 pandemic, for which the former prime minister Imran Khan’s government deserves credit for more efficiently managing the pandemic as well as steering labour-intensive initiatives.
“If the 5.5m jobs in the PTI rule were wrong, then the current Shahbaz Sharif government would have certainly grilled the Imran Khan government,” he said.
He said new employment also thrived in the pharma and food sectors owing to surging demand.
“All these new jobs in the various sectors are still intact and going strong,” he claimed, adding that the factory output in official data of large-scale manufacturing (LSM) and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) has also been showing a positive trend, suggesting the opening of new jobs for people.
According to Zubair Motiwalla, Chairman Council of Textile Association Pakistan, the establishment of new textile mills under the State Bank’s Temporary Economic Relief Scheme (TERF) at a very low markup rate has created new jobs, which account for 10-15pc of the 5.5m jobs. He said the garment sector employs a sizable number of people. He added that a number of applications for setting up new mills are also pending.
According to Sufiyaan Adhia, Chairman of the Southern Region Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD), “the share of new jobs in construction and its allied sectors hovers between 20-25pc of the total 5.5m jobs opened by the PTI government.”
However, the bulk of the jobs were created in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to soaring construction activities in a series of new projects as compared to lukewarm pace of activities in Sindh owing to investors’ lack of interest in view of court intervention.
A miller in the Site industrial area, while disagreeing with the 5.5m employment data, said that the entire industrial areas of Karachi took over 70 years to create 1.5m jobs directly and indirectly. It looks strange how 5.5m jobs have been created in less than four years.
“The rosy picture of employment in the PTI government needs to be checked,” he said.
A Chinese bike assembler said, “No new jobs in the Chinese bike assembling units have been created due to highly depressed sales.” Due to thin demand, a number of Chinese bike assemblers are operating for only 15 days.
According to the latest Labour Force Survey, the PTI government created 5.5m jobs in its first three years of power—or 1.84m annually—compared to 5.7m employment opportunities created during the entire five-year term of the PML-N government.
As many as 3.22m jobs were created during the past two years, despite the onslaught of Covid-19, thanks mainly to government interventions in productive sectors of the economy, including agriculture, industry, and construction, the survey said.
The survey, released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, showed that the number of employed people in the country rose from 64.03m in 2018–19 to 67.25m in 2020–21 — an addition of 1.61m people to the labour force per year.
At the same time, the number of unemployed people dropped by 200,000 from 4.71m in 2018-19 to 4.51m in 2020–21.
Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2022