Lag in Millennium Development Goals
PAKISTAN lags behind on 25 Millennium Development Goals indicators with only eight of them on track.
The unachieved goals include poverty alleviation, improving literacy rate and ratio of girls in schools, bringing down infant and maternal mortality ratios, improving access to water and sanitation and funding of social sector programmes. The government has projected 16 targets and 33 indicators for achieving the MDGs latest by 2015.
These disclosures came from the UNDP draft report on key messages. The report will be submitted to the UN Development Group by March 30, 2013, which will then become part of inter-government processes for consultation in June-July 2013 before presenting it in General Assembly in September.
The first and foremost important indicator is the volatile economic growth and persistent inequalities. The GDP growth rate between 2000 and 2012 averaged 4.5 per cent, but inequalities increased from 0.27 to 0.29 (Gini-Coefficient).
Then there are also regional disparities due to unequal resource distribution among and within the provinces.
Net primary enrollment in Punjab is 61 per cent as compared to Balochistan’s 44 per cent and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s 52 per cent. Similarly, the infant mortality rate in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is 76 per 1,000 as compared to 104 in Balochistan and 82 in Punjab.
Within the provinces, there is unequal distribution of resources. Major recipients of provincial resources are big cities. In Punjab, the bulk of the share goes to central Punjab, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to cities like Peshawar, Mardan, Charsadda and D. I Khan while in Sindh maximum shares goes to Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur, respectively.
The Planning Commission has also failed to evolve poverty figures for the country for the past many years.
There is also lack of structural transformation that could not be achieved since the launch of the MDGs. Over 40 per cent of the workforce in agriculture sector produces only 21 per cent of GDP. For growth to be inclusive, productivity in agriculture sector needs to be improved and labour needs to be shifted to manufacturing sector.
Nearly 60 per cent of the youth in the age group of 15-24 years is unemployed and idle. The youth unemployment ratio is at seven per cent compared to the overall unemployment rate of five per cent. Even those who work, do so in unpaid jobs. If paid, they are less likely to have access to social security. It has been estimated in the draft report that over 3.5 million enter job market each year. This makes the task difficult for the government to create enough jobs.
Revenue Generation (tax-to-GDP) ratio is less than 10 per cent, which is far less than the regional average of 15-25 per cent. The tax base is only 0.8 million, with more reliance on regressive indirect taxes which hurt the economy and the poor. As a result, the fiscal space is limited which constrains government’s ability to spend more on social sector and development priorities.
Pakistan has also been facing environment challenges in terms of forest devastation and reduction in biodiversity. Estimates suggest that environmental degradation costs the country at least three per cent of the annual GDP, with disproportionate impact upon the poor and most vulnerable. Vulnerability to natural disasters (the earthquake in 2005 killed thousands of people, the 2010 floods affected 18 million people, destroyed or damaged 1.88 million houses and ruined 6.2 million acres of crops.
It has been estimated that countries suffering from persistent violence have poverty rates 20 per cent higher than the average. Around $10 billion loss is estimated annually due to security-related issues. Foreign direct investment has been on the decline, falling from $5.152 billion in 2008 to $812 million in 2011-12.
The country office of UN in Islamabad has finalised the ‘Key Messages Report’ on Pakistan specific priorities for the post-2015 development agenda which would be submitted to the UN Development Group to be included in final document. However, it seems that the report is mostly given final shape in consultation with few specified non-government organisations.