Pakistan stands second in world as The Economist releases latest normalcy index

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ISLAMABAD – Pakistan has been ranked second in the world in global normalcy index of the Economist that measured recovery and opening up of society and economy post COVID-19.

Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar shared the development on Twitter, stating that Pakistan was third in the first evaluation and number one in the second.

He said Pakistan is the only country in the world to be among top 3 in all three rankings.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan warned that another wave of coronavirus had gripped the country but reiterated his stance against lockdown, saying that his government will not shut down the economy. “We are giving it incentives … and the importance that it was not given until now.”

The premier stated this at the launch of the National Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Policy, underlining the importance of supporting small businesses and startups and saying the country would see the benefits of this policy in days to come.

The premier said the government was now directing its efforts towards facilitating the SME sector, which he said was ignored previously.

He highlighted that one of the most significant steps taken under the new policy was facilitating small businesses in taking loans from banks.

“The SME sector is the biggest source of employment and has a considerable share in wealth creation,” he underscored, regretting that in Pakistan, the SME sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product was not as much as it should be.

The prime minister identified difficulties faced by small businesses in getting loans and credits as one of the reasons behind it not contributing to the GDP to its full potential.

In this regard, he gave the example of Silicon Valley — the hub of startups and global technology companies in the US.

He said Silicon Valley, where ideas of young people were supported by means of making resources available to them, brought about a “revolution of technology” in the US.

“Venture capitalists backed ideas [there], they took a chance, and people as young as 25 tp 26 years old went on to become billionaires,” he said. The youth, he said, were more driven, passionate and “dream big”. As one grows older, the premier added, “we take fewer risks … and initiatives”. “Therefore, it is important that the government facilitate the youth [in getting] credit,” Prime Minister Imran explained, also encouraging the private sector to make venture capital investments.

He also expressed pleasure over a “$500 million investment in Pakistani startups from outside the country”. Previously, he recalled, the investment in the sector from outside the country was negligible.

“And this means that we are heading in the right direction.” As the prime minister again stressed the importance of investing in the youth, he went on to identify further reasons that hampered the progress of SMEs.

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