Empowering youth

Prime Minister Imran Khan launched an ambitious “Kamyab Jawan Programme” in a ceremony held at Jinnah Convention Center Islamabad. It is a multidimensional programme of technically and economically empowering the talented youth, facilitating financial assistance for acquiring higher education and training, skill development, inculcating and refining entrepreneurial expertise and civic engagements. The total outlay of the programme is Rs.100 billion for providing soft loans to youth strictly on merit within the range of Rs.50, 000 to 50, 00,000. Out of the total allocated amount Rs.25 billion have been earmarked for women. Small loan from Rs.50, 000 to 100,000 will be interest free.
Launching of youth empowerment programme was long overdue because of chronic unemployment problem in the country, the seed of which had been sown by destroying the flourishing private sector comprising industries and financial institutions through nationalization drive in 1972. In the decade of 1960s, private sector created bulk of the jobs for the educated and skilled youth. The decline and eventual stagnation of private sector snow-balled the rate of unemployment which accentuated the flight of skill workers from the country and gave impetus to brain drain in the shape of accelerated immigration of scientists, engineers, doctors and information technology professionals. The youth empowerment programme includes internship for 25000 educated youth in different industries, imparting teaching skills to 100,000 young people, and establishing 500 sciences and IT labs in seminaries. Although it is a modest skill development initiative but it is still appreciable. After the establishment of special economic zones (SEZs), Pakistan would need highly skilled workers, engineers, for handling the latest generation of technologies in the relocated Chinese’s industries to these industrial zones. The internship of educated youth will be beneficial only when they get training of modern technologies whereas the industrial base of the country is stuck in second generation technology. It makes inevitable the provision of incentives to the private sector for the induction of latest technologies in consumer goods industries and the indegenisation of imported technologies by government institutions of technical educations, engineering sciences, technology, research and development.
At present the institutions of research and development are redundant as government spends 0.34 percent of the GDP on research and development activities. In the past the youth empowerment and self-employment programmes did not achieve the desired results because mark up on bank loans was very high. The monetary policy has set a bench mark of 13.25 percent interest on loans which has squeezed the volume of credit for the business leaders. How can unemployed youth avail loans under the “Kamyab Jawan Programme” if the compound interest charged on bank loans is above 20 percent? The loans extended to youth under this programme need to be on fairly concessional terms.