Economic Survey: Literacy rate in Pakistan slips by 2%

Speakers note Pakistan ranks near top of the table on illiteracy.

Literacy rate in the country saw an annual drop of 2.0 per cent to 58 per cent during fiscal year 2015-16 — a level last seen in FY2013-14 when the current PML-N government came into power, official figures released on Thursday revealed.

The situation has turned out to be an embarrassment for the federal government as it skipped mentioning figures of FY15 in the Pakistan Economic Survey 2016-17 which were better than the year FY14, just to avoid criticism. This scribe found the missing figures from previous year’s records.

The decline in literacy rate has been witnessed in Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab while it remained stagnant in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).

 

The drop is also being termed as a setback for the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Trainings which had been painting a rosy picture of the education sector.

The literacy rate in Balochistan has fallen to 41 per cent in FY16 as compared to 44 per cent in FY15. Sindh has witnessed a whopping fall of 5.0 per cent to 55 per cent in FY16 as against 60 per cent the previous fiscal. The rate in K-P has remained stagnant at 53 per cent since FY14 while Punjab witnessed a 1.0 per cent decline in the rate as compared to the rate the last fiscal.

Interestingly, the total number of enrolments at the national level during FY16 stood at 46.2 million as compared to 43.9 million during FY15, reflecting an increase of 5.0 per cent.

Urban-rural divide

The urban-rural gulf is still wide in terms of literacy rate – standing at 74 per cent in urban areas and 49 per cent in rural areas, pointing to the widening gap between rural and urban education systems. Moreover, the overall literacy rate among the male and female populations is 81 per cent and 68 per cent respectively. A similar trend is glaring in all provinces.

Govt redefines literacy for count

In Punjab, the total literacy rate is 54 per cent among female population and 59 per cent among male population. In rural areas, the count is 44 per cent for females and 66 per cent for males. And in urban area, it is 73 per cent for females and 82 per cent for males.

Balochistan has 24 per cent female and 56 per cent male literacy rate. The figure is 15 per cent for females and 48 per cent for males in rural areas while in urban, it is 44 per cent and 76 percent for females and males respectively.

K-P’s literacy count is 36 per cent in case of females and 72 per cent in case of males. In rural areas, percentage for females is 33 and males 70. While in urban areas, it is 52 per cent and 77 per cent for females and males respectively.

Matter of literacy: Out-of-school children census from 2017

In Sindh, 44 per cent females and 67 per cent males are literate. In rural areas, it becomes 19 per cent in case of female population and 51 per cent in case of male population. In urban areas, it is 65 per cent and 80 per cent for female and male population respectively.

Public sector expenditure on education as percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP) is increasing at a snail’s pace with an estimation at 2.3 per cent during the FY16 as compared to 2.2 per cent in FY15.

Educationists and national campaigners have been pressing the government to allocate 4.0 per cent of GDP to the education sector. The figure was 2.1 per cent in 2013-14.

Pakistan attractive for investors: Japan

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THE NATION, LAHORE, 05th NOVEMBER 2013:- Japanese Ambassador to Pakistan Hiroshi Inomata on Monday stressed the need for more collaboration between Pakistan and Japan to create concrete and tangible results as far as economy is concerned.
The Ambassador was talking to LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari during a visit to the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Monday. The Ambassador said that Pakistan’s strategic location makes it an attractive market for the potential foreign investors. He said that he would be doing what is possible to highlight the potential of Pakistan in the eyes of Japanese investors.
The Ambassador also invited to arrange a delegation to Japan to have first hand knowledge about available opportunities there. Hiroshi Inomata also discussed bilateral economic relations with particular reference to cooperation in different sectors. He said that the Japanese government and the private sector were ready to extend every possible help to Pakistan for the revival of economic activities. He said that Japan was quite strong as far as the technical education was concerned and Pakistan should avail this opportunity to overcome the shortage of skilled labor.
He said that the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry should further strengthen its liaison with chambers of commerce in Japan that have much bigger membership as compared to Pakistan.
The Ambassador said that an exchange of trade related information between the two countries could also jack up the volume of two-way trade that does not match the true potential of the two countries. Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari said that Pakistan has strong economic and commercial ties with Japan but these relations need to be capitalized to attain greater share in Japanese market. For closing the gap in trade balance, a lot of efforts are desired to be made and the best possible way is to identify the areas where the two sides can cooperate with each other.
He said that non-availability of trade-related data is one of the impediments in the way of expansion of trade between two countries. The LCCI President said that frequent exchange of sector-specific delegations could help the representatives of private sectors explore the opportunities of trade and investment in Pakistan.
Throwing light on the prospects of investment in the energy sector, he said that it is the most lucrative sector as coal is abundant in Pakistan, sun is available for most part of the day in the southern areas and there is a wind corridor in the coastal areas of the country which makes it perfect for the Japanese investors to explore this untapped field of investment.
Major exports of Pakistan to Japan consist of cotton yarn, petroleum oils, woven cotton fabric, vegetables, electro-medical apparatus, leather, leather garments, carpets and sports goods etc. The main imports from Japan are cars, vessels & other floating structures, products of iron, trucks, parts & accessories of motor vehicles, textile machinery and etc.

In a slow-moving industry, Pak-Qatar Takaful makes profit in 5 years

According to the company’s statement of contributions for 2012, total gross contributions that Pak-Qatar Family Takaful received in the 12-month period were Rs3.3 billio. PHOTO: FILE

According to the company’s statement of contributions for 2012, total gross contributions that Pak-Qatar Family Takaful received in the 12-month period were Rs3.3 billio. PHOTO: FILE

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, KARACHI, 05th NEVEMBER 2013: In the slow-moving life insurance business environment where the gestation period of a company ranges from 10 to 12 years, it is rare for an entity to become profitable within five years of its establishment.

Pak-Qatar Family Takaful, which is one of the only two family Takaful companies operating in Pakistan, posted its first-ever profit of Rs26.6 million in 2012 as opposed to a loss of Rs9.4 million the previous year. The company’s financial year runs from January to December.

“The share of Takaful is growing rapidly in Pakistan. Our company is getting stronger by the day mainly because of an exceptionally high customer loyalty,” said Pak-Qatar Family Takaful Deputy CEO Muhammad Menhas while talking to The Express Tribune in a recent interview.

“In our case, the policy renewal rate is 90% as opposed to conventional companies where it is roughly 80%,” he observed.

According to the company’s statement of contributions for 2012, total gross contributions that Pak-Qatar Family Takaful received in the 12-month period were Rs3.3 billion, up a massive 78.2% from the preceding year when they totalled Rs1.8 billion.

A look at the breakdown of gross contributions collected by the company shows that third-year onwards contributions in 2012 were Rs595 million, which is 147.5% higher than the corresponding figure in 2011.

The only other family Takaful company in the country, Dawood Family Takaful, received total gross contributions of Rs523.3 million in 2012, up 60.4% compared to the preceding year. However, the company posted a net loss of Rs42.9 million last year, as it is still in its gestation period.

“Takaful is not just a business, it’s a cause. Most people at Pak-Qatar Family Takaful work here while foregoing far more lucrative opportunities in the conventional insurance sector. They are not here for money, they are here for the cause,” Menhas said.

Menhas joined Pak-Qatar Family Takaful in 2011 after spending well over a decade at some of the leading conventional insurance companies in the country. He saw the proverbial light during a Dars in Madina when a cleric hailing from Faisalabad told pilgrims that insurance was forbidden in Islam.

“It’s a matter of Sawab to popularise Shariah-compliant insurance services, as it curbs the element of interest in the economy,” he added.

Despite a robust attempt by the regulator to facilitate Takaful operations, the fact remains that the share of Islamic insurance is still miniscule compared to conventional life insurance in Pakistan. While seven life insurance companies sell conventional products, the number of Shariah-compliant insurance companies is still two.

Combined gross contributions of the two Takaful companies in 2012 were Rs3.8 billion. In contrast, the total premium of the life sector in the same year was Rs85 billion, according to provisional figures provided by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan.

This shows that the size of Takaful market was only 4.4% relative to its conventional counterpart in 2012.

He refused to comment on the legal battle against the SECP and conventional insurance companies that the Takaful operators have been engaged in since August 2012. Islamic insurance companies, including Pak-Qatar Takaful, have filed a constitutional petition in the Sindh High Court, challenging the Takaful Rules 2012 that the regulator issued last year, allowing conventional insurance companies to run Shariah-compliant operations through parallel windows.

However, Menhas said his company is not against competition and welcomes new players in the Takaful business.

“Please keep in mind that it is extremely difficult to set up an insurance company in Pakistan no matter it is conventional or Islamic. We lack trained insurance personnel. Also, an insurance company’s gestation period is normally very long while investments are pretty high,” he said while commenting on the limited footprint of Islamic insurance in Pakistan.

Turkish investors keen to invest in energy sector

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THE NATION, LAHORE, 21st OCTOBER 2013:- Impressed by the mega projects completed by the Punjab government in the past five years, Turk investors in their meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Sunday, expressed their keen desire to invest in energy, housing and other sectors.
The chief minister told them that there was also a vast scope of investment in tourism and housing sector in Punjab and Turk investors should consider investment in these sectors as well.
They said that they were deeply impressed with the completion of metro bus project in a record period of time by the Punjab government. The Turk investors also said that Lahore could be considered among the developed cities of the world.
According to an official handout, they said that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was serving the people in the real sense by completing mega projects within a record period.
Shahbaz Sharif told them that a favourable atmosphere had been created in Punjab for investment and Punjab Investment Board was assisting and facilitating investors. He further said that foreign investors should benefit from the conducive atmosphere available in Punjab for investment as special incentives were being offered to foreign investors for setting up energy projects.  He said that Turk investors should fully benefit from investment opportunities in energy sector.
The delegation included Chairman Bozatli International Dr. Ali Bozatli, Vice Chairman Mehmat Bozatli, Chairman Azad USA Group Akbar Azad, Chief Executive Officer Safa Marwa Industries Muhammad Waqas Marwa and Chairman AsiaTech Group Nadeem Malik. Chairman Lahore Transport Company Khawaja Ahmad Hasaan, Managing Director Metro Bus Authority, Secretary Energy and other concerned officers were also present on the occasion.
The chief minister said that several Turk companies were working on various projects with the collaboration of Punjab government and had invested billions of dollars in the province during last five years. He appreciated the cooperation and investment of Turkey in metro bus project, solid waste management and landfill site projects.
Shahbaz said that a modern system of sanitation had been introduced in the provincial metropolis with the collaboration of Turk companies and its scope was being expanded to five other cities of Punjab including Rawalpindi, Multan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Sialkot.
He observed that Turkey was a brotherly country of Pakistan and the historic, cultural and fraternal ties existing between the two countries have been changed into strong economic relations.

PMNH, IWCCI to sign MoU for uplift of women entrepreneurs

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THE NATION, ISLAMABAD, 21st OCTOBER 2013:- The Islamabad Women Chambers of Commerce and Industry (WCCI) and Pakistan Museum of Natural History (PMNH) will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to jointly organize training programmes and other activities for socio-economic development of women enterpreuners. This was agreed on the occasion of training workshop titled “Gemstone Grading, Treatment and Evaluation” here at PMNH.
The workshop was organized by PMNH (a subsidiary of Pakistan Science Foundation), International Gemological Laboratory, Gems and Gemological Institute of Pakistan (GGIP), Pakistan Association of Petroleum Geologists and Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Speaking on the occasion, WCCI President Samina Fazil said the workshop would help boost potential of the participants to develop gems and jewellery industry.
She said Pakistan’s gems and jewellery jndustry had immense potential to play its role in economic development and create job opportunities. Fazil stressed the need for adding value to precious stones in order to get their real price.
She said the knowledge gained by the participants would help them increase their professional capabilities and start the business of gems and jewellery.
PMNH Director General Dr. Atta Ul Mohsin highlighted the importance of natural history as the heritage of the past, present and future generations.
Dr Mohsin said,  “ During the workshop they learned that the gems and jewellery industry is far behind in terms of technology use due to the absence of a vibrant system. ”He called upon the stakeholders to actively play their role so that the technology might reach the users.
He said 40 persons participated in the workshop and hoped that they would fully utilize the knowledge they got during these three days. On the occasion, recommendations were formulated to make a strategy for uplifting this important sector of revenue generation and economic development.
During the workshop, the participants were imparted practical training on grading, evaluation and pricing of gemstones as well as their cutting, polishing, faceting and carving.
Experienced gem stone experts from relevant fields shared their professional experience with the participants regarding gemstones, their type, value, identification, classification, gradation, cutting, polishing and pricing. The workshop also highlighted salient features of the gemstone trade including certain pitfalls as well as the assessment criteria for various gemstones and outline a general pricing strategy for different marketing conditions.

Dar briefs US treasury adviser on macroeconomic stabilisation plans

The government has initiated structural reforms to expand the tax base, resulting in 20% boost in tax revenues. PHOTO: ZAFAR ASLAM/EXPRESS/FILE

The government has initiated structural reforms to expand the tax base, resulting in 20% boost in tax revenues. PHOTO: ZAFAR ASLAM/EXPRESS/FILE

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, WASHINGTON, 14th OCTOBER 2013: 

On Saturday, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar briefed the US Under Secretary of Treasury for International Affairs Lael Brainard about the country’s efforts towards macroeconomic stabilisation.

The Under Secretary leads the development and implementation of policies in the areas of international finance, trade in financial services, investment, economic development and international debt.

Dar, who is in Washington to spearhead a Pakistani delegation to the International Monetary Fund (IMF)-World Bank annual meetings, also informed Brainard about the actions taken by the government in the first four months, saying that the measures of the new government had put the economy back on track, according to an aide to the finance minister.

Dar highlighted that the government had cleared the crippling circular debt of over Rs550 billion, and in doing so had added 1,700 megawatts (MW) to the national grid. Also, the government had initiated structural reforms to expand the tax base, resulting in 20% boost in tax revenues.

Dar said that these steps had restored the confidence of investors and multilateral agencies, which is evident from the fact that foreign direct investment inflows had clocked in more than double in the first quarter and the overseas chamber of commerce had improved Pakistan’s rating from negative 34 to plus two.

The finance minister said that the government had set an ambitious target for the economy in the next three years which included reducing the fiscal deficit by half, doubling the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate and boosting investment by 50%.

The measures taken and the ambitious target had led to the approval of the bailout programme by the IMF. The Washington-based fund, he said, had endorsed the policies of the incumbent government.

Brainard appreciated the bold decision taken by the new government to revive Pakistan’s economy. She observed that these steps would help create employment opportunities and pull investment into the country. She assured the finance minister of all possible help to achieve the targets set by the government.

Later, Dar addressed a gathering of a group of Pakistanis and Americans at the Embassy of Pakistan, which hosted a dinner in honour of the visiting finance minister and his team of economic managers including Finance Secretary Dr Waqar Masood Khan, State Bank of Pakistan Governor Yaseen Anwar, and economic affairs division secretary.

Charge d’ Affaires Dr Asad Majeed Khan welcomed the finance minister and praised his expertise and focus in dealing with the economic challenges faced by the country.

In his wide-ranging speech, Dar touched upon a string of structural reforms and measures that the government launched right away and assured the guests that the government was pursuing a clear-cut, target-oriented roadmap for economic rebound.

He cited a number of hopeful positive economic indicators that have emerged in the wake of the new policies in the last four months. Regarding energy issues, he said the government is taking immediate, medium and long-term steps to meet the fast-increasing energy needs of the country.