The impact of brain drain on Pakistan’s economy

Hardly any country has suffered more from the ‘brain drain’ than has Pakistan. Nearly 3,500 (annual) graduates of Pakistan’s medical colleges are jobless; most go abroad.

This was stated by the Chairman Denmark Pakistan Chamber of Commerce (DPCC) and Research Economist Abid Ali Abid while delivering a lecture ‘the impact of brain drain on Pakistan’s economy’ to the members of Lahore Economic Journalist Association (LEJA).

President LEJA Mansoor Ahmad, Vice president Itrat Bashir, General Secretary Muhammad Sudhir Chaudhry and Treasure Imran Adnan also spoke on the occasion.

Abid said that those that consider flight of highly skilled human resource of the country as source of remittance fail to realise that absence of highly qualified doctors, engineers and scientists is playing havoc with the long-term economic growth of the country. He said even the low skilled labour force of the country should be nurtured to improve their skills and play their role in the local economy.

He said Pakistan seems to have nothing but problems. He said the endemic poverty of British Raj pales compared with the current poverty rate in Pakistan. He said high skilled workforce badly needed in Pakistan is going abroad in search for jobs. He said educated see their future not in their home country but in other countries.

He said all economists agree that every doctor who leaves a poor nation leaves a hole that cannot be filled. That creates enormous problems for the source country and the educational and health leaders in the country who are attempting to provide healers, he added. He said no nation can achieve long-term economic growth by exporting human resource.

Chairman DPCC said according to official estimates of Pakistan’s Overseas Employment Corporation, close to 36,000 professionals, including doctors, engineers and teachers, have migrated to other countries in the last 30 years. Interestingly, this number is indicative of only a small proportion of actual migration, since the majority of emigrants do not register. He said his research indicates that the number in recent years has increased around 45,000.

Abid said that though the danger of the brain drain to Pakistan is clear, a large part of the problem is that there are not enough opportunities offered to the country’s highly skilled labour for contribution and advancement opportunities. Educated unemployment is very high and salary levels for skilled workers (relative to unskilled workers) are often kept forcibly low by governments to maintain an egalitarian income policy.

He said though the salaries of highly skilled workforce in developed world is 30-40 times higher than in Pakistan but money is not the only reason for many who opt to go abroad. He said lack of respect of the professionals is another reason. He said highly skilled software engineers are usually answerable to the bosses that have no knowledge about IT and they ridicule the computerised solutions that the engineer presents before them. He said the government should impart on job training to farmers, welders and plumbers about their profession so that they could increase productivity and ensure a progressively better future for them.

Source: Daily Times, 5-Jul-09

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