Various international financial institutions are weighing options to launch assistance programmes to boost not only industrial productivity in Pakistan, but also increase export surplus, create employment opportunities and fully realise the potentials of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. The technical assistance programme will be jointly financed by the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom and the Asian Development Bank. The programme will also help promote regional trade and will devise a development policy and operational framework in line with the government policy. The programme will improve competitiveness in trade activities, develop an instrument to make the corridor a development hub in the region, enhance the value chain activities and strengthen institutional strategies in coordination with the private sector. According to the media reports, the bank has made the assistance part of the country’s business plan. The two institutions had already agreed to strengthen regional connectivity and trade, spur economic growth and create jobs. A significant part of investment will be made in the transport sector, strengthen public-private partnership and provide technical support to the economic corridor.
The country is facing fiscal deficit and lack of local and foreign investment due to discouraging public sector resources. The incapacity of the government machinery and lack of coordination among different government agencies are other areas of concern. Experts believe the participation of private sector in the planning and implementation process of the corridor will give fruitful results. The government’s ‘Vision 2025’ plan covers various areas of economy, including development of energy, industry, trade and transportation sectors, allowing the country to fully utilize its strategic location. However, the provincial governments also need to do their share of work to develop and promote agriculture, industry and services sectors. There is a need to balance development programmes for urban and ruling areas of the country and the federal government cannot do this all alone without the active support and participation of the provincial governments. China has already invested heavily in the corridor project and now it is the Islamabad’s turn to set up industrial estates, economic zones and transport system in the country. The development of industrial and economic zones will lower pressure on cities and the corridor project should be utilised to stimulate business activities and create jobs in the rural centres of the country. However, the policymakers should also look into extravagant spending by government departments when foreign loans are already turning into a snowball.