PPP made promise in its 2013 manifesto that when in power they would motivate youth to contribute to the national economy by encouraging them to set up small businesses. Banks will be given the mandate to introduce special schemes to reach out to young people.
An evaluation of the pledges regarding energy and unemployment (both subsets of economy) indicates that these fields have been given little importance. Although some parties promised to set up employment programmes in their manifestos, none delivered on their pledges. While the government has undertaken initiatives to introduce income and loan schemes to support and empower the rural population, available evidence suggests that Pakistan’s informal economy is providing more employment opportunities than the formal sector.
In its section on the state of the nation, the PPP manifesto affirmed that Pakistan’s unemployment and inflation levels are extremely high and that the party intended to tackle this ‘twin menace’ by instituting viable programmes to create jobs in the public and private sectors. These included programmes for public works, literacy and health, vocational training and microfinance for targeted poverty alleviation. The Microfinance and Targeted Poverty Programme, as designed in the PPP manifesto, set a target of five million beneficiaries for commercial and microfinance banks and NGOs.
Youth is a vital asset for every country`s progress. Pakistan has incredible youth but due to issues like shortage of funds, political unrest, and the lack of recognition and platforms to share ideas, they become helpless. According to the International Labour Organization’s recently published Global Employment Trends Report, Pakistan’s current unemployment rate of 5.17 per cent will likely rise to 5.29 per cent in 2014. The true unemployment rate for youth is much higher still.
The government has recently begun he process of offering special loans worth Rs. 3.7 billion ($37 million) to help and empower the country`s youth. This was the first round of applications for the Business Youth Loan Programme, which the premier announced last year.
It is true that 70 per cent of the country`s population did not have access to loans, but how will be the situation improve in the presence of strict application submission conditions? How can the illiterate people file the application? How can a person understand the minor details of the loan process? How can the applicants get their documents attested? How can the young people get the guarantor to sign the application? These are some of the major question, which the government must answer.
The current government of Pakistan promises to implement the necessary environment for job creation. If the government wants to provide financial independence and sustainability, it should focus more on addressing youth problems. It should be asserted that Government should initiate a media campaign to educate the population about this loan program, followed by relaxation of the loan application process.
Shazia Marri, member National Assembly, told Truth Tracker that we have certainly not implemented this promise because the federal government has already done that and we are in collaboration with the centre for the effective implementation of youth scheme programme in Sindh. Many applicants from Sindh have received loans under the PM youth loan scheme. However, since Punjab is the constituency of the sitting government their tilt has been dispensing much of the funds there.
Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) stalwart Bilal Bhatti, MPA in Punjab Assembly told that the PPP never had the welfare of people close to its heart. Any development work that had been done was a result of half hearted attempt. He said that only Infrastructure development does not pay. He added that it is the social and economic uplift of the people that brings changes in the lives of the people. “It is with this vision that the Prime Minister had initiated the Youth Loan Scheme, which is bearing fruit and has provided financial assistance to many deserving people,” said Bhatti.
Dr Qais Aslam, Professor in Economics School of Accountancy and Finance, University of Central Punjab, Lahore, said that the Youth Loan Scheme has the same objectives as the Yellow Cab Scheme initiated two decade ago and once again in 2011. The scheme had been a colossal failure for several reasons including poor execution and management practices, blatantly political overtones, lack of a long term integrated approach and problems with the terms and conditions the beneficiaries would have to meet to avail a taxi.
Secondly, the fact that applicants are not required to submit a business proposal as a prerequisite for the loan, makes the scheme’s rationale all the more dubious. The government could adopt an integrated approach in which instead of doling out cash, it could supplement the capital investment with enterprise development skills, business support provision and creativity and innovation development as pre-requisites for applying and getting these loans approved.
As far as Sindh government is concerned it is imperative that they should also start similar programme at the regional level to benefit their youth. But the implementation process should be transparent.
The PPP government has been unable to fulfil its promise to provide financial opportunities to the youth so that they could contribute in the development of country’s economy. The promise stands broken.