SEATTLE — Pakistan’s government recently announced that it plans to join the world’s top ten economies by the year 2047 – the centennial of its independence. To get there, it is launching Vision 2025, a plan to spur broad, multidimensional development across the country.
“Vision 2025 will build upon the sustained efforts made by the Government to regain macroeconomic stability,” said Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. “It will focus on the right of the people to the benefits of growth and development, and aligning national priorities to make development more inclusive and sustainable.”
Pakistan’s most pressing barriers to development include a 50 percent literacy rate, long-operating extremist organizations perpetuating violence and instability, insufficient energy and water security, gender inequality and extensive rural populations disconnected due to inadequate infrastructure.
The Vision is built on seven pillars to combat these challenges: Human and Social Capital, Achieving Sustained, Indigenous and Inclusive Growth; Democratic Governance, Institutional Reform & Modernizing the Public Sector; Energy, Water & Food Security; Private Sector and Entrepreneurship Led Growth; Developing a Competitive Knowledge Economy; and Modernizing Transportation Infrastructure & Regional Connectivity.
In education, the government will increase spending from two percent of GDP to four percent in order to catalyze improvements at the provincial level. In addition to investing this money in new teachers, facilities and materials, leaders want to modernize school curricula to gear students up to tackle challenges currently facing the country. Enrollment for young women will also be encouraged through affirmative action and anti-harassment legislation and investment in gender-inclusive facilities.
A major hope of leaders is that increased access to educational opportunities will deter future extremists and create a more productive, globalized workforce.
To foster sustained and inclusive growth, the government will increase tax-to-GDP ratio from 9.8 percent to 18 percent. This will primarily be achieved by legitimizing the informal Pakistani economy through simplified regulations and other incentives. Additionally, the government will strive to bring in more Foreign Direct Investment, aiming to increase this income from $600 million to $15 billion.
Using this new revenue, the government plans to increase internal and regional connectivity by building 98,000 new kilometers of roads, upgrading airports and seaports to better manage cargo supply and demand, and doubling the capacity of its main railway systems. Leaders are hoping this will position the country to increase its annual exports from $25 billion to over $150 billion.
Accomplishing these objectives will depend on the ability of Pakistan to achieve much-needed governance reforms. Leaders want to address a judicial system that is often costly and inaccessible. Systematic corruption within the legislative and social services sectors, which has cost citizens untold amounts of money and has delegitimized the government, will also be addressed. And, the government will need to better train and equip police forces to provide security to local communities.
Vision 2025 planners are also cognizant of the fact that this plan will not move Pakistan towards joining the world’s top ten economies if all segments of society and all stakeholders are not involved at all levels.
“We are mindful that we have never been short of policies and plans but the failures in the past have been in the area of implementation,” said Pakistan Minister for Planning, Development & Reform Professor Ahsan Iqbal. “Special focus has been paid to monitoring and implementation of the vision through the collaboration of stakeholders.”
They have, therefore, built a framework that brings together citizens, government officials, academic and investors to further realize the logistics needed to actualize Vision 2025, and they are developing program evaluation metrics to track real progress.
Pakistan has no shortage of optimism and drive, its leaders say. Now, Vision 2025 will show if that tenacity will deliver results.