by Manan Aslam and Shahid Latif
Dr. Mahbub-ul-Haq, the former chief economist of Pakistan, threw light on the phenomenon of inequality in economic power and incomes in April, 1968 for the first time. In a speech delivered at Karachi, he stated vigorously that 66 percent of the industrial assets and eighty-seven percent of banking and insurance were in the possession of twenty-two industrial houses. The leading position of industrial houses was affected as a consequence of fragmentation of Pakistan and nationalization at large scale.
Economic imbalance denotes concentration of wealth in a few hands, while most of the society lives below the subsistence level. Itâ€™s a paradox because there is no dearth of resources, but only its accumulation at the hands of few.
The fruits of economic development donâ€™t reach a common man. Cooperation, which is essential for boosting economic growth, evaporates and as a result demand for luxuries increases.
The objective of economic growth progression is to condense poverty. Since the inception of Pakistan, swift industrialization has been an arduous feature for economic policy makers. In terms of large scale manufacturing during fifties and sixties, remarkable growth rates in Pakistanâ€™s economy had been witnessed. This industrialization amplified the gap between rich and poor. Millions of people got hurt by this economic development which only benefited the rich.
Favoritism and nepotism, poor infrastructure, improper utilization of public assets, black marketing and hoarding, lack of social reforms, corruption, red tapism, urbanization, feudalism, injustice and drug trafficking are considered to be the main reasons for crafting economic inequality in this country.
Time to time Government of Pakistan has taken steps to cater these persisting issues. Now the government has reduced the extent of individual land holdings by making land reforms. Progressive taxes levied by government in order to shrink variances in incomes and provide protection to the middle class which is backbone of the economy.
Different employment exchanges are being opened by government, facilitating masses by providing transport facilities and spread of information is enhancing through media; all these efforts are for lessening income disparities. The government is also providing generous concessions and interest free as well as low interest rate loans for establishing small scale business in Pakistan.
In this contemporary era, governments endeavor to diminish economic imbalances by endorsing stability in society, social justice and welfare, increasing production and providing equal opportunities for all. Free medical assistance, free education, pensions for oldies, and stipendsfor the poor students are some of the cures implemented for flowing some of the wealth of rich towards poor.
Some of the measures which government can take are to change the national pattern of growth in terms of social and economic reforms. Substantial amount of people live in rural areas and government previously has put uneven efforts in developing urban and rural areas in the past. Agricultural negligence has often triggered inertia in per capita food production and prices to rise.
Agricultural production especially in form of food crops need to be increased for faster growth and for this it is necessary to direct the funds properly to the rural areas for infrastructure, agricultural implements, and production inputs like improved seed and fertilizers. For plummeting income disparities in Pakistan, the market imperfections need to be eradicated, progressive income tax system need to be implemented effectively, loans, implements and better agricultural input need to be given to small farmers. Further, corruption, fraud, dishonesty, adulteration need to be dealt rigorously so that this unevenness is uprooted for the betterment.
A comprehensive and hardheaded approach is obligatory besides government benefaction and economic policies.
Our religion is rational and lays stresson mankind equality in all arenas of life. Unless equality in all perspectives prevails in our society, no one can lead a balanced life.
*the writers are lecturers at the University of Management and Technology, Sialkot.