Pakistan Migration Report 2020: Ishrat for tapping expats’ potential to improve indicators

Published in DAWN on February 20, 2020

LAHORE: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain has called for utilising the potential of overseas Pakistanis in improving socio-economic indicators of the country through their contribution in the knowledge economy.

He was addressing the participants on the launch of “Pakistan Migration Report 2020” at the Lahore School of Economics (LSE) Burki Campus on Wednesday.

LSE Rector Dr Shahid Amjad Chaudhry, Pakistan Institute of Development Studies (PIDE) former joint director Dr. G.M. Arif and others were also present.

Centre on International Migration, Remittances and Diaspora (CIMRAD) at the Graduate Institute of Development Studies (GIDS) LSE had published the report.

Dr Hussain praised CIMRAD for writing the report and their working on international migration and said it [report] had brought together the scattered and partial information on overseas migration and remittances in a comprehensive form and it raised important questions for academics, policymakers and the government.

He emphasised the potential of overseas migrants in improving the socio-economic indicators of Pakistan through their contribution in the knowledge economy.

He said the potential was needed to be realised through technological transfers and building human capital.

Mr Arif raised the issue of lack of coordination between the various public and private institutions and stakeholders in migration related policy-making and the implementation process.

He said Pakistani diaspora should be encouraged to engage in entrepreneurial activities that could help stimulate economic growth in the country.The report suggested enhancing the skill levels of Pakistan’s labour force and its overseas migrants because half of all labour migrants fell in the category of unskilled/semi-skilled workers. There was a need to make skilled labour.

On the issue of irregular migration from Pakistan that seems to have increased in the last few years, the report acknowledges the progress made in terms of identifying, documenting, and curbing irregular migration, but stresses on additional efforts to identify the routes and intermediaries that enable such migration to exist and continue.

In terms of flow of remittances to Pakistan, despite the increasing amount, the country’s share within South Asia and the low-and middle-income countries has been decreasing due to the fall in deployment of Pakistani migrant workers abroad.

Moreover, owing to the high costs of sending remittances through formal channels and the additional verification requirements by banking institutions in line with the recommendations of FATF, the use of informal channels seems to be increasing.

The report suggests a more direct role to be assumed by the government to capitalise on the emerging opportunities of employment in countries including Malaysia and Japan.

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