Pop­u­la­tion plan­ning

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

One of most se­ri­ous is­sues the new gov­ern­ment will face is unchecked growth in Pak­istan's pop­u­la­tion which is pos­ing in­sur­mount­able chal­lenges to the na­tional econ­omy. It is es­ti­mated that with­out ur­gent mea­sures to ar­rest the present growth rate, the pro­jected pop­u­la­tion would rise to about 400 mil­lion by 2050. This num­ber will be more than the pro­jected pop­u­la­tion of Brazil and In­done­sia. This will make Pak­istan the fourth most pop­u­lous coun­try in the world for ad­e­quate food and wa­ter avail­abil­ity will be­come a se­ri­ous prob­lem.Ac­cord­ing to the Pak­istan De­mo­graphic and Health Sur­vey (PDHS) 2013, the fer­til­ity rate (num­ber of births per woman) has re­mained high, at 3.8 per­cent. In the An­nual Plan 2017-18, the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion es­ti­mated 3.6 per­cent as the to­tal fer­til­ity rate (TFR), show­ing a small de­cline from the PDHS re­sult. It means that fu­ture pop­u­la­tion growth pro­jec­tions will de­pend on as­sump­tions made un­der the re­vised TFR.

The Pop­u­la­tion Coun­cil has worked out three sce­nar­ios of pop­u­la­tion growth on the ba­sis of high, medium and low rates of the TFR. Thus, the pop­u­la­tion is pre­sumed to rise to 344 mil­lion, 299 mil­lion and 235 mil­lion re­spec­tively in the three sce­nar­ios. The gov­ern­ment is mak­ing ef­forts to keep to the low­est pro­jec­tion growth. The hope­ful signs in this re­gard are that the de­mand for birth-spac­ing among the peo­ple is grad­u­ally in­creas­ing. Re­li­gious schol­ars too are sup­port­ing the prac­tice of birth spac­ing for the pur­pose of rais­ing and main­tain­ing small fam­i­lies. But there are hur­dles in the way. The cur­rent rate of con­tra­cep­tive preva­lence (CPR) is only 35 per­cent which needs to be dou­bled for ef­fec­tive short and long term fam­ily plan­ning. The need is to cre­ate new groups of Lady Health Vis­i­tors to pop­u­lar­ize con­tra­cep­tive use in ar­eas not yet cov­ered.

While plan­ning to con­trol pop­u­la­tion growth, we need to look at the phe­nom­e­non of pop­u­la­tion growth from an­other an­gle. The pop­u­la­tion up­swing of the last four decades is not with­out its pos­i­tive side. The growth rate in the age group of 15-64 - the pro­duc­tive group - is higher than in other groups. Nearly 50 per­cent of our pop­u­la­tion is less than 15 years of age. This is an as­set which has great po­ten­tial for the fu­ture of the coun­try. Also im­por­tant is the fact that the de­pen­dency ra­tio will be de­clin­ing with smaller fam­i­lies. House­hold con­sump­tion will also de­cline and more sav­ings and in­vest­ment pos­si­bil­i­ties will emerge.

This is what is called the de­mo­graphic div­i­dend. The trend in the de­mo­graphic tran­si­tion be­gan in the early 2000s and is likely to con­tinue un­til 2040. But we have not yet been able to trans­late the demo­cratic div­i­dend into eco­nomic div­i­dend. To make the be­stof our youth po­ten­tial, there is need for com­plete over­haul of our eco­nomic poli­cies with more em­pha­sis on hu­man de­vel­op­ment. With­out the needed re­form, the de­mo­graphic div­i­dend may turn into a night­mare as the ris­ing tide of frus­trated youth may re­sult in a so­cial up­heaval of un­con­trol­lable di­men­sions.

For decades we have ne­glected to make in­vest­ment in hu­man cap­i­tal the cen­tre-piece of our de­vel­op­ment plan­ning. To this end we need in­crease our spend­ing in the so­cial sec­tor - ed­u­ca­tion and health. Our top­most pri­or­ity should be the achieve­ment of uni­ver­sal pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion. Above all, we need to strengthen and up­grade tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion at the sec­ondary level. There has to be a suit­able mix of ed­u­ca­tion and skills at all lev­els to im­prove the em­ploy­a­bil­ity of new en­trants into the labour mar­ket. Our so­cial sec­tor is badly ne­glected. The con­sol­i­dated spend­ing of the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments on health and pop­u­la­tion wel­fare is about one per­cent of GDP, which is ex­tremely low as com­pared to coun­tries in sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion. Need­less to say, if we do not plan right now to con­trol our pop­u­la­tion, all our grandiose eco­nomic plans will fail to achieve their tar­gets.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.