Pre-Budget Seminar calls for change of approach in economic matters
Minhaj University organized a Pre-Budget Seminar which was presided over by Deputy Chairman of Board of Governors Dr. Hussain Mohi-ud-Din. Former Finance Secretary Dr. Waqar Masood, Economist Dr. Pervaiz Tahir, former Deputy Chairman FBR Dr. Nadeem ul Haq, PPP leaders Naveed Chaudhry, Barrister Amer Hassan, economist Dr. Faheem and Mian Imran Masood were the chief guests on the occasion.
In their address, the speakers said it’s not mineral resources but higher education, Science & Technology, research and skilled manpower that ensure prosperity of nations. It is not through construction of roads, bridges and tall buildings but allocation of national resources of higher education and research that can steer Pakistan out of political, economic and social crises. In Pakistan ratio of skilled manpower is about 4 to 6 percent, whereas in Germany this ratio is 76 percent, in Korea, Hungry, Finland, China and Japan this ratio is 100 percent. Even in developing countries this ratio is 66 percent. They said that in Pakistan only 2.2 percent budget is allocated for education; no specific allocation is made for technical education.
Addressing the seminar D. Hussain Mohi-ud-Din said that for development of education sector, we would have to invest in teacher training and development. Education can be promoted through highly educated and trained teachers, not decorated buildings. He said it is matter of concern that Harvard University, Colombia University, Cambridge University, and Chicago University have 151, 101, 94 and 89 professors who are Nobel laureates. In this context there is a complete darkness in Pakistan and the Muslim world. He said Royal Society London was established in 1660, more than 8 thousands Professors and Scientists are members of this society, only 4 members belong to Muslim world. He said if Pakistan is not transformed into “skilled and knowledge based economy”, Pakistan will never come out of economic, social and political crises. It is painful to see that a hardly 50 percent budget for higher education is consumed.
Dr Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri said that in 2008, one thousand Professors were sent to foreign countries for PhD program, now this number has reduced to 250. All projects conceived during past 10 years to promote higher education met with failure, all high claims in this context turned out to be just statements. He said that 63 percent population of Pakistan is comprised of youth, since their majority is unskilled, so they have become burden on the economy. He said that in Punjab there are 11 Education Boards, but only one Technical Education Board. In 2002 budget for Science and Technology was over 6 billion, now this has been reduced to 2 billion, and this is not shortsighted but criminal negligence.
Dr Hussain said that in 2002, MOUs were signed with leading international universities to open their campuses, which were approved by ECNIC. If those universities had opened their campuses, Pakistani youth would have acquired quality education locally and this would have saved about 100 billion annually. He said that in order to ensure 100 percent use of development budget; we would have to improve capacity of different departments. So far School Education Department could not use 31 percent of its budget till end of March; likewise higher education is yet to use 40 percent of its budget, and health department has only used 63 percent of the allocations.
Noted economist Dr. Pervaiz Tahir, while commenting in the Pre-Budget Seminar, expressed that in fact the governments coin the budget to run their own political shows and then take loans to implement their so-called policies in their own interest. He further added that CPEC is a wonderful project, but its process of completion is facing delays and is sluggish.
Former Federal Finance Secretary Dr. Waqar Masood categorically stressed that the present government must not present the budget as their tenure has almost come to an end. It is not understandable as to why the present government wants to do it, a job that has to be doen by the next elected government. He added that there is no guarantee that the newly formed elected government would accept the budget of the present government which is already nearing its tenure in office. He pointed out that the present budget deficit is more than 8%.
Mr. Khurram Nawaz Gandapur stated that the CPEC project has increased the tally of foreign debt. He suggested that the Pakistani economists who are in the process of negotiation on various projects with China must form a task force. This would result in putting the economy of Pakistan on the progressive track.
Dr. Mughees Shaukat stated that due to degrading economic policies and malfunctioning of the present government, the IMF and World Financial Institutions have strong reservations about the deteriorating economy of Pakistan. It is high time that rather than taking pride in the borrowed crutches, we must rely on over own resources.
Mr. Naveed Chaudhary said that Amnesty Scheme is just a fraud. He added that the loans are taken with the aim of nepotism & favoritism. Barrister Amir Hassan said that it is a matter of sheer agony that in our country, the downtrodden are out rightly humiliated at the hands of so-called tycoons & the filthy rich. It is equally ironic that the poor is made escapegoat in the name of taxes and the rich get exempted from paying their share of taxes.
Dr. Saeed A Shaykh emphasized that it is need of the time to eradicate the gap between the government and the public. The government policies should be in coherence to each other. The government and the elected leaders should stop being diplomatic and must speak the truth. We must set our direction on priority basis. We ought to make such policies that IMF must be hard bound to provide their assistance and help rather than dash out a dole for help.
Dr. Nadeem ul Haq said in his remarks that budget is a highly sensitive issue which directly pertains to the well-being of the nation. It should be dealt with in a professional manner by the seasoned economists rather than the politicians in the assembly. To support his argument, he said that in America the budget remains under discussion throughout the year. It is matter of pity that in Pakistan, every government and the non-government sector have suffered losses much to the difficulties of the masses who have to pay through their nose for extravaganza of the government.
Dr. Muhammad Aslam Ghauri, the Vice Chancellor of Minahj University, expressed a word of thanks to the all honorable guest, distinguished speakers, press and the leading politicians for their participation in the seminar. He said that the aim of Minhaj University is to provide food for thought by holding such seminars and conferences to build up a strong Pakistan.