Pak economy needs reality check as ranking on global standards tumble

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By Mansoor Ahmad

LAHORE: The periodic hiccups that the Pakistan’s economy faces calls for a reality check so that remedial measures regarding its institutions, security, gender equality, competitiveness are taken as the country is ranked extremely lower than global and regional standards in all spheres.

In-depth study on Pakistan is included when creditable global institutions release their reports to rank countries on corruption, economic freedom, political freedom, and gender affairs. These institutions include Transparency International, World Economic Forum, Freedom House, Foreign Policy Magazine, The Heritage Foundation etc.

Poor ranking of Pakistan by all these organizations reveals that its successive governments have failed to remove the bottlenecks that place the country among the worst performers in all spheres. Other countries in the region have been constantly improving their status.

The Transparency International for instance evaluates the corruption in a country on the basis of score attained by a country on a scale of 0-10. A score of zero means total corruption and 10 indicate full transparency.

Pakistan for instance has failed to improve its transparency score during the past one decade despite the much applauded reforms by the successive governments during this period. Pakistan’s score of 2.5 points in fact is lower than 2.7 points it attained in 1998. India that was at lower level a decade back score 3.4 points and China 3.6 points.

Heritage Foundation ranks the country on economic freedom based on business freedom, trade freedom, fiscal freedom, government size, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property rights, freedom from corruption and labor freedom. Pakistan obtained 56.8 per cent points in 2008 to be ranked 93 among 157 states evaluated. It secured 1.7 per cent more points in the previous year. Hong Kong score of 90.4 per cent places it as the top country in economic freedom.

Pakistan is ranked 101 out of 134 economies in the Global Competitiveness Index 2008-09 by the World Economic Forum. Its position a year earlier was 92 out of 131 economies evaluated. India’s position is 50 and China is placed at 30th position GCI. Both these countries have improved their ranking from previous year. The index is based on the status of institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic stability and health and primary education.

The Enabling Trade Index of World Economic Forum ranks countries on the basis of market access, border administration, business environment and transport and communication infrastructure. Pakistan’s rank is 84 out of 118 economies while China, Sri Lanka and India are at number 48, 70 and 71 respectively.

In the Gender Gap Index 2008 of World Economic Forum Pakistan is ranked 127th out of 130 countries evaluated even below Iran that is ranked 116 while India was ranked 113. The gender gap evaluation is based on economic and participation opportunities for women, their education attainment, health and survival and political empowerment. In Network Readiness Index 2007-08 of World Economic Forum Pakistan is ranked 89 out of 127 countries while India is a 50th position, China at 57 and Sri Lanka at 79.

Pakistan was declared “not free” in the Freedom of the World Index 2008 prepared by Freedom House of United States. India was declared “free”’ while Bangladesh and even Afghanistan were placed among partially free countries. The evaluation was done on the basis of political rights including electoral process, political pluralism and participation, and functioning of the government. The civil liberties like freedom of expression and belief, associational and organizational rights, rule of law and personal autonomy and individual right were also part of this evaluation.

The Foreign Policy Magazine issues list of countries on the basis of risks to its survival under the banner of Failed Country index. The evaluation is based on demographic pressures, refugees and displaced persons, group grievance, human flight, uneven development, economy, de-legitimisation of state, public service, human rights, security status, factionalised elites, and external intervention. Pakistan is ranked 12th most vulnerable state in the world in the failed state index for 2008.

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