Structural reforms needed for Pakistan to maximize outcomes of CPEC
Haroon Sharif, former Minister of State, attends the 11th Asia Research Forum held on Noverber 16, 2021 via video link.
ISLAMABAD, Nov 22 (Gwadar Pro)– Pakistan needs to work on several structural reforms to maximise the people centric outcomes of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for the benefit of its large young labour force, said Haroon Sharif, former Minister of State.
Sharif pointed out China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the strategic CPEC have laid solid foundations for regional connectivity when attending the 11th Asia Research Forum held on Tuesday via video link.
He added that as a transformational investment, CPEC’s success is critical for both China and Pakistan to demonstrate their ability to steer this region towards sustainable growth.
To keep sustainable growth, Pakistan firstly have to strengthen the structure and orientation of its bureaucracy towards a pro-growth system.
“The mindset of bureaucracy should change to facilitate rather than control business. Reform is not about making new laws, actually a lot of letting goes,” said Sharif.
By cutting down the costs of doing business, more FDI will flow in Pakistan so as to boost its economic development.
Secondly, the private sector should play a main role in economic diplomacy where geographical proximity takes a central role. While, the inefficient sectors that have flourished on patronage and state protection should be dropped.
To keep sustainable growth, Sharif advised to explore sectors with long-term potential. Pakistan has four sectors of comparative advantages, namely, the value-added textile, agriculture-based food, IT service and light engineering base.
Thirdly, investment in regional knowledge networks will be crucial to sustain its key position in the new regional markets. Pakistan must benefit from China and the rest of Asia’s research and development expertise and link up its universities and think tanks with those of its Asian neighbours.
Sharif said, “We need to invest in research and talents to improve our competitiveness. The investment in people have paid off very well in China. Its inclusive growth policies have given people a share in the economic growth.”
Sharif said Pakistan and China should further encourage bilateral financial cooperation and technical cooperation for sustainable development and promote the development of Pakistan-China relationship. The role of China-Pakistan Investment Company needs to be expanded as a strong development financing institution.
He added that maybe it is time for Pakistan to upgrade the micro financing sector to reach out SMEs, and introduce private equity instruments to reduce the financing gap, and energize the financing market.
“I think China and Pakistan should work together, with China's technology and Pakistan's labor force combined. We can jointly export goods to regional and international markets,” said Sharif.