VIEW: Reality-check —Farrukh Saleem
Daily Times, August 8, 2007
Here are some facts and figures from various standards — surveys and indices — which need to be placed alongside official claims to economic progress and the overall well-being of this country. They make an interesting read
Pakistan Economic Survey 2006-07: “Pakistan’s growth performance over the last five years has been striking. [The] Average real GDP growth during 2003-07 was the best performance since many decades, and it now seems that Pakistan has decisively broken out of the low growth rut that it was in for more than one decade.”
Let us now consider some other standards.
UN’s Human Development Index: This Index “looks beyond GDP to a broader definition of well-being”. It measures the “impact of economic policies on quality of life”. In 2006, Pakistan ranked 134th out of 177 countries surveyed (meaning: economic policies are not having any impact on quality of life).
Failed States Index: The Fund for Peace — an independent, non-profit, Washington, DC-based research and educational institution — first published the Index in 2005. In 2005, seventy-five countries were surveyed and Pakistan ranked 34th (meaning that there were 33 other countries that were ‘more failing’ than us). In 2007, one hundred and seventy-seven countries were surveyed and Pakistan ranked 12th, a sharp deterioration from 2005 (meaning that there were only 11 other countries that were ‘worse off’ than us). This Index compares measures such as ‘Criminalisation of the State’, Deligitmisation of the State’, ‘Uneven economic development’, ‘Suspension of rule of law’, and ‘Security apparatus operates as a state within a state’. The ‘most failing’ states include Sudan, Iraq, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Chad, Congo, Afghanistan, Haiti and Pakistan.
Press Freedom Index: Reporters sans frontières Ior Reporters Without Borders maintains this Index which surveys the world for ‘direct attacks on journalists’, ‘direct attacks on the media’ and other ‘indirect sources of pressure against the free press’. For the past five years Finland with a score of 0.50 has been holding the first place. In 2002, Pakistan’s score stood at 44 (a higher score indicates more restraints on freedom of the press). In 2003, Pakistan’s score improved to 39. It’s been a steep downhill since then: 61 in 2004, 60 in 2005 and 70 in 2006. In 2002, Pakistan ranked 119th falling to 129th in 2003, 150th in 2005 and 157th in 2006. Looks like the 2007 Report will group with the worst offenders alongside North Korea, Turkmenistan, Cuba, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Global Peace Index: This Index is maintained by the Economist and “measure[s] the relative position of nations’ and regions’ peacefulness”. In 2007, a total of 121 countries were surveyed and Pakistan ranked 115th meaning that we are among the seven ‘least peaceful’ countries in the world (there are 114 countries that are ‘more peaceful’ than us). The group of ‘least peaceful’ countries includes Pakistan, Colombia, Nigeria, Russia, Israel, Sudan and Iraq.
Global Competitiveness Index: This Index is published by the World Economic Forum and “assesses the ability of countries to provide high levels of prosperity to their citizens. This in turn depends on how productively a country uses available resources”. In 2006-7, Switzerland, Finland and Sweden are the world’s most competitive economies while Pakistan ranked 91st out of 125 countries surveyed. India, at 43rd, is a lot more competitive than us and Bangladesh, at 99th, is less competitive.
Ease of Doing Business Index: This Index is maintained by the World Bank and includes factors such as starting a business, dealing with licenses, hiring and firing workers, registering property and trading across borders. Here we are 74th out of 175 while India, at 134th, is a much more difficult country to do business with.
Gender Empowerment Index: This Index is a “measure of inequalities between men’s and women’s opportunities in a country” and includes factors such as ratio of female to male earned income, female professional and technical workers and seats in parliament held by women. In 2006, Pakistan ranked 134th out of 177 countries surveyed. India was 126th and Bangladesh 137th.
Happy Planet Index: This Index also goes beyond GDP into ‘life satisfaction’, ‘life expectancy’ and ‘ecological efficiency’. In 2006, Pakistan ranked 112th out of 178 countries surveyed.
Dr Farrukh Saleem is an Islamabad-based economist and analyst