The World Bank has issued a warning to Pakistan, saying that the country is at a critical moment where it must decide whether to continue with policies that have resulted in 40% of the population living below the poverty line, or make changes for a better future. The bank’s Country Director for Pakistan, Najy Benhassine, emphasized that while international lenders and development partners can offer advice and some financing, it is ultimately up to Pakistan to make the necessary choices and decisions.
Benhassine pointed out that other countries in similar situations, such as India, Indonesia, and Vietnam, were able to overcome challenges and achieve sustainable economic growth by making the right decisions at critical times. Therefore, this could also be an opportunity for Pakistan to make policy shifts.
According to the World Bank, Pakistan is currently facing an economic and human resource crisis. Policy decisions are heavily influenced by vested interests, including those of military, political, and business leaders. Pakistan is also dealing with economic hardships like inflation, rising electricity prices, climate shocks, and limited resources for development and climate adaptation. Additionally, the country is facing a human capital crisis with high rates of child stunting, low learning outcomes, and high child mortality. The bank recommended that Pakistan enhance revenue mobilization, reform expenditures, and prioritize spending on health, education, and sanitation. It also advised a shift towards coordinated and efficient service delivery, targeting the most vulnerable populations. The new government should implement these policy shifts with wider stakeholder support in order to lay a foundation for future progress.
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