IT is now agreed on all hands that Pakistan is on the right economic track and its business climate is gradually improving. An evidence of this is a string of statements from international bodies lauding Pakistan's economic achievements. During his recent visit, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim stated that Pakistan is poised to become the next fastgrowing successful economy due to vital measures taken by the government over the past few years.
While addressing a meeting on the government's economic performance, he pointed out that the country has made significant strides to achieve macro-economic stability and increased its revenues by introducing reforms in the tax system. Mr. Jim Yong Kim especially underlined the fact that Pakistan has taken a number of steps to improve the business climate in the country. The economy of Pakistan, he said, would see further growth with peace and stability and further improvement in the investment climate. He assured that the World Bank, as a partner, will continue to support the government's initiatives to bolster economic growth and provide assistance in the required areas.
The same conclusion has been drawn by a survey of the Overseas Investors Chambers of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) whose results show that more than half of the multinationals operating in Pakistan believe that the business climate in the country is better compared to other 10 regional countries, including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Philippines and Vietnam.
Commenting on the survey results, the OICCI President said that they were very encouraging and reflected improved and positive sentiment of the members of the OICCI - an association that represents over 195 multinationals operating in Pakistan. According to him, about 82% respondents have stated that they foresee continuing growth in their business and that they are generally committed to making further investment in Pakistan. Nearly 60% of the respondents indicated plans to make new investments, while over 80% plan to invest more or similar amounts over the next one to five years, as compared to the investments they made in the previous corresponding period. Needless to say, the planned investment in business and human capital is expected to boost revenue and profitability, as 84% of the respondents expect increased sales and 79% expect their profits to rise.
An increase in investment is good news for the youth entering the job market with more than half of the respondents indicating that they will add to their employment level. However, in the midst of positive developments, there are concerns among businessmen about some aspects of doing business in Pakistan. They have indicated that more support from certain government ministries and regulatory bodies is required to remove hurdles in their way. More than 50% of the respondents in the OICC survey identified security and energy shortages as the challenges they face followed by an increasing tax burden, slow policy implementation and lack of inter-governmental coordination.
In a report the World Bank has warned of the ' substantial' fiscal risks that Pakistan faces. The World Bank President has emphasized the need to bring vitality to the private sector as this will generate massive employment opportunities and bring the impoverished people out of poverty.
During the meeting with Pakistani officials he also underscored the need for more investments in vitally important social sectors like education and health. Surely, the key to sustained economic growth lies in human resource development to which the government needs to pay greater attention. Simultaneously, more efforts should be devoted to improve the security situation and create a congenial environment for investors.