In a recently-released report, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimated that as many as 2.3 million young people in Pakistan may have lost their jobs during the six-month lockdown period. The report titled “Tackling the COVID-19 Youth Employment Crisis in Asia and the Pacific” found that the employment prospects of the region’s 660 million young people were severely challenged. Pakistanis lost their jobs due to the compromised state of economy, the report reveals.
Asian Development Bank (ADB) in its latest report titled “Tackling the COVID-19 Youth Employment Crisis in Asia and the Pacific” said that more than 2.3 million people in Pakistan could lose their jobs in case of long term containment scenario implemented to curtail coronavirus. pic.twitter.com/08Q88xPasY
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The report said that job loss among youth will continue throughout 2020 and could result in youth unemployment rates doubling in countries. “Between 10 and 15 million youth jobs (full-time equivalent) may be lost across 13 countries in Asia and the Pacific in 2020,” the report said. The reports estimates were based on an expected fall in output and consequent decrease in labour demand for the year relative to a non-COVID-19 scenario.
Both large and small countries were included in ADB’s estimate from countries such as India and Indonesia, as well as small ones such as Fiji and Nepal. The projected rise in youth unemployment rates, according to the report varies from country to country, but increases are expected for all countries.
In Cambodia, Fiji, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and Thailand, youth unemployment rates are expected to reach at least double the 2019 estimates even in a scenario of short COVID-19 containment, the ADB said.
“A longer containment period will naturally result in higher job losses. For most countries, a 6-month period would reach into September because containment started near the beginning of April. In the 6-month scenario, job losses for youth may equal 6.1 million in India, followed by Pakistan with 2.3 million. Indonesia may see lower job losses (1.9 million) than Pakistan, despite the former having a larger youth workforce,” the report said.
It added that this is likely the result of higher concentrations of youth in badly hit sectors and lower labour productivity in Pakistan.
The report added that young people in the 13 countries may lose the equivalent of 9.9 million jobs in 2020 under the three-month scenario.
As Pakistanis lost their jobs, the report states, that the largest losses are expected in countries with the largest workforce, but the start date of serious containment measures and the severity of restrictions also have an important impact.
“In India, the equivalent of 4.1 million youth jobs may be lost, followed by Pakistan with 1.5 million. These countries not only have a larger population and workforce, but they also imposed stringent containment measures and did so early, in the latter half of March. As containment measures have continued to be in force after three months in many countries, despite some relaxation, the short containment results are best viewed as a lower bound of job losses,” the report states.
PM Khan’s policy to combat Corona: Did it prove to be effective?
Prime Minister Imran Khan initially opposed to enforcing a curfew-like lockdown in Pakistan. He offered several economic reasons behind his decision. However, provincial governments, experts, and media urged the prime minister to ensure the loose lockdown in order to ensure physical distancing so that the spread of the virus can be stopped. The premier was also fearing that during the lockdown it is likely that Pakistanis lost their jobs to the failing economy.
The Prime Minister then announced Corona Relief Tiger Force and Corona Relief Fund along with a multi-billion package involving relief for labor and underprivileged class, the business community and industries and farmers.
Initially, the World Health Organization (WHO) has termed Pakistan’s measures against COVID-19 outbreak as “timely” and the “best national response”. The Country Head of the WHO Dr. Palitha Gunarathna Mahipala, while talking to media in Karachi during his visit to various hospitals and testing labs, said: “At a time when other countries were reporting cases, Pakistan was keeping the virus at bay, which is something quite praiseworthy.”
Later on, the WHO urged the Punjab government to enforce a strict two-week lockdown in the province to contain the spread of coronavirus. In a letter to the provincial government, the WHO strongly recommended that the government should adopt the “two weeks off and two weeks on” strategy as it offers the smallest curve. It also recommended strengthening of all public health measures such as quarantine, isolation, physical distancing and contact tracing.
Pakistan has now opened all sectors except educational institutions and marriage halls. All sectors have been asked to strictly implement SOPs as suggested by the WHO to stop the spread of the virus.
Analysts believe that the premier’s pro-poor political framework helped him devising an effective policy to defeat the spread of the virus, and let people earn some money to run their daily lives affairs.
Pakistanis lost their jobs: ADP’s recommendations to fix the economy
The ADB has recommended support measures for youth who have been affected by the lockdown such as providing youth-targeted wage subsidies and public employment programmes, expanding job information and employment services targeted to young jobseekers and supporting apprenticeship programmes and focusing on demand-driven skills development.
As a greater number of Pakistanis lost their jobs, the ADP has also recommended increasing funds for upskilling and reskilling, especially in growth sectors, investing in digital inclusion for equitable access to education, training and entrepreneurship and supporting young entrepreneurs through access to capital combined with non-financial services.