As Pakistan’s downward slide on overall rankings in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Index hits a pause this year, the country has been deemed the third least safe place in the world in the forum’s latest report.
Of the 144 nations surveyed in the WEF Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) 2014-15, Pakistan is ranked 142 according to security parameters, behind only Yemen and Libya. Afghanistan is not covered in the report.
“The security situation remains alarming and Pakistan is the third least safe of all countries covered,” the report stated.
The country, meanwhile, came in at 139 on the list of nations ranked according to the business cost of terrorism and 132 according to the business cost of crime and violence.
According to the GCR 2014-15, Pakistan’s overall ranking on the competiveness index has remained essentially the same since last year, following two consecutive years of decline. The country came in at 129 on the list of 144 nations.
Pakistan, however, obtained low marks in the most critical areas of competitiveness. The country’s public institutions in particular are constrained by red tape, corruption, patronage, and lack of property rights protection, the report noted.
And while Pakistan’s ranking remained stable, it still stands towards the bottom of the index. All other South Asian nations came in higher than Pakistan as well.
According to the report, inadequate infrastructure, corruption and inefficient government bureaucracy remain the most problematic factors for business in Pakistan. Policy instability, access to financing and government instability were other important factors hurting the business environment in the country.
In terms of power supply, Pakistan stood at 133, among the bottom eleven countries. Bribery remains a matter of serious concern as well and Pakistan was placed at 123 in this regard. In terms of favouritism by government officials, Pakistan was ranked 101 on the list.
On the other hand, the GCR 2014-15 said Pakistan’s macroeconomic situation had improved compared to last year due to a lower inflation rate and smaller budget deficit. The situation still remains dismal, however, and Pakistan was ranked 137 in terms of macroeconomic indicators.
The country’s standing did not improve much in terms of infrastructure as well and it stood at 119. Its performance in terms of health and education, meanwhile, was among the worst. In terms of infant mortality, Pakistan came in at 137, the worst outside Sub-Saharan Africa. Pakistan also has one of the worst enrollment rates in the world and came in at 132 on the index.
Pakistan’s competitiveness was further penalised by the many rigidities and inefficiencies of its labour market. The country came in at 132 in terms of this indicator, although this was six notches above its standing the previous year.
On the technological readiness index, Pakistan ranked 114. The country also has the fifth lowest rate of female participation in the labour force, according to the report.
On the upside, the country performed comparatively better in areas such as financial development – where it ranked 72 – and business sophistication – where it came in at 81.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2014.