ISLAMABAD: The downward slide of Pakistan’s overall ranking on Global Competitiveness Index took a break this year, but the country remains the third least safe place on the planet due to fragile security situation, the World Economic Forum said in its latest report.
Based on security parameters, the Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) report 2014-15 that was launched from Switzerland, has placed Pakistan at 142 among 144 surveyed nations.
“The security situation remains alarming and Pakistan is the third least safe of all countries covered, behind only Yemen and Libya.”
Afghanistan is not covered in the report.
Plagued by violent terrorism, per business cost of terrorism Pakistan stood at 139 while on the indicator of business cost of crime and violence it was placed at 132.
According to the report, after two consecutive years of steep decline, Pakistan has remained essentially stable since last year and stood at 129 among 144 nations.
However, the country was ranked low in the most critical and basic areas of competitiveness. Its public institutions are constrained by red tape, corruption, patronage, and lack of property rights protection, according to the report.
Even among the South Asian nations, Pakistan is ranked at the bottom. India was at 71, Sri Lanka 73, Nepal 102, Bhutan 103 and Bangladesh at 109, according to the report.
Inadequate supply of infrastructure, corruption and inefficient government bureaucracy have contributed significantly to problems of doing business in Pakistan.
The report further mentioned the policy instability, access to financing and government instability due to fear of coups as other important factors hurting the business environment in the country.
In terms of quality of electricity supply, Pakistan was clubbed among bottom eleven countries and stood at 133.
Corruption was a matter of serious concern and Pakistan was placed at 123. Similarly, favourtism in decision making by government officials was glaring and the country was ranked at 101.
Owing to a lower inflation rate and a smaller budget deficit compared to the previous year, the country’s macroeconomic situation improved slightly but nevertheless remained dismal at 137. Pakistan’s infrastructure did not improve much and the country stood at 119 among the 144 nations surveyed.
Moreover, the country’s performance in terms of health and education is among the worst of all the countries covered. On the indicator of infant mortality Islamabad was placed at 137 and the ratio was the highest outside sub-Saharan Africa. Pakistan also has one of the lowest enrollment rates in the world and ranked at 132. The GCR stated that the estimates suggested that almost a quarter of children do not go to primary school.
Pakistan’s competitiveness was further penalised by the many rigidities and inefficiencies of its labour market where it stood at 132, though six notches up from previous rating. Female participation in the labor force is the world’s fifth lowest, at 140.
On the index of technological readiness, the potential of information and communication technology is not sufficiently leveraged, and access to ICTs remained low at 114. This reflected in the fact that while its IT exports remain at $327 million on the books, officials admit that informally, exports are as high as $1.5 billion.
Pakistan’s positives were that the country performed comparatively better in the more advanced areas such as financial development where it stood at 72 and 81 on the business sophistication pillar.
The country has been placed among 37 economies whose development is factor-driven, which is the lowest stage among the three stages, spanning from factor-driven to efficiency driven and innovation driven.