The prime minister, in his second address to the nation, has announced six different schemes for the youth worth Rs 20 billion. These are mostly aimed at creating self-employment at a time when the unemployment rate is constantly on the rise. The six schemes include: micro interest free loans, youth skills development scheme, small business loans, provision of laptops, youth training and reimbursement of fees.
The announcement is not out of the blue; to be fair to him, the prime minister had promised the youth jobs and loans and laptops during his election campaign. Election, of course, had different dynamics and such campaign promises were seen as a winning strategy used by the PML-N to offset the popularity of PTI among the country’s youth.
Now is the time to fulfill those election promises. Like all political governments, the PML-N is eyeing a clear victory in the next general election, if not the forthcoming local bodies’ polls. But there are a few questions regarding the availability of funds and the economic rationale behind such schemes.
Ironically, the PML-N government which is said to have the ability to manage the economy better has not proved it thus far. It has a history — of badly managed projects that cost the economy heavily but somehow with little political costs. The yellow cab scheme of the 1990s may have been a bad memory for the banking sector but its next tenure in the biggest province Punjab was again characterised by the hastily executed Metro Bus Project and laptop schemes worth billions of rupees.
Even though it is difficult to conclude that the PML-N was rewarded in the last election for these two megaprojects, many more such political tools are now being doled out for free. It is too early to judge the impact of these projects, touted as incentives for self-employment, but in today’s Special Report we have spoken to experts and stakeholders in various fields to gauge it somehow. We have conducted this exercise to bring forth the impending problems and suggest improvements if possible at this stage.