There is a generally recognised link between economic growth and prosperity as both are non-mutually exclusive events. Economic prosperity is an indicator that measures the overall well-being of the citizens living in a state through income distribution, provisions of safety and security and standards of health and education. Pakistan, being the sixth most populous country in the world, has experienced the mounted growth rates equivalent to 4.7 percent in the fiscal year 2016. However, the paradox of growth without prosperity is frightening for the persistence of the current democratic government as the whopping GDP growth rate accompanied with the menaces like income disparity, illiteracy and unemployment, has raised a question that whether Pakistan is growing sustainably or not.
The boost in the economic activity, calculated through GDP growth rate, is due to two major factors including increased infrastructural spending by the government on the production of roads etc. and reduced commodity prices mainly of petrol and other petroleum products that has spurred the GDP growth rate by lifting domestic demand and by improving the foreign reserves in the form of lesser import bills. However, despite all the positive indicators, including World Bank’s predictions regarding Pakistan’s growth rate to be 5.2 percent for the fiscal year 2017 and Pakistan to be the 18th largest economy by 2050, there is a void that is needed be filled as soon as possible by uplifting the living standards of deprived and impoverished section of the society.
It is an established fact that in spite of high GDP growth rate, masses in Pakistan are not prone to basic necessities of life. And most often GDP statistics provided by the officials do not withstand the reality as they suggest that the economy is doing far better than most of the citizens’ percept. Poor performance across all sub-indices including health, freedom, security, governance and education has made Pakistan the 11th least prosperous country in the world in the year 2016. Further insight into the Legatum Prosperity Index, 2016 signifies that Pakistan has one of the biggest disparity deficits in the world, leaving behind all its counterparts in South Asian region except Afghanistan. And the threats in the form of safety, security, health and education are hampering the volatility of economic growth by negatively impacting the productivity and competence.
In the equation of Y= C+I+G+(X-M), lavish government spending on infrastructural projects is the major factor boosting overall growth rate. Pakistan, a developing state, needs to take such crucial steps that ensure the sustainability of economic growth by attracting local and foreign investors and by improving export competitiveness. On one hand this infrastructure-led development, centred in particular territories, is ameliorating the growth rate but on the other hand it is creating income disparities and in turn making the privileged section of the society even more sumptuous. Pakistan’s new poverty index, that reflects the deprivations that people experience with respect to health, education and standard of living along with income and wealth, has revealed that 4 out of 10 Pakistanis live in multidimensional poverty. So, what is the benefit of gigantic growth rates when the wealth is concentrated in a few hands? It is this income inequality that hampers the sustainability of economic growth by increasing crimes and transgressions. Therefore, analysts believe that implementing viable structural reforms, in the fields such as poverty reduction and improvement in health, nutrition and education, will benefit the entire population.
Renowned economists like Joseph E. Stiglitz believe that prosperity is possible without GNP growth. And soon it will become impossible for a state to prosper because rapidly growing GNP statistics could thwart the boons of economic growth by creating security, environmental and health challenges for the citizens. GNP, a measure that determines gross national product, is gross domestic product taking into account net income receipts from abroad. Keeping an eye on the view that chasing GDP growth results in lower living standards and better indicators are needed to coincide with well-being of the masses, one can say that in Pakistan although economy is growing, but prosperity isn’t there because no substantial steps are being taken by the government to create and employment opportunities, income equality and poverty alleviation.
CPEC is the ray of hope for the Pakistanis. But its benefits could only be reaped if the project is implemented to its fullest. For this purpose, government has to address the reservations of all the provinces including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan. It is rightly said that winds and waves are always on the side of ablest navigator, so Pakistan having high GDP growth rate could ride on the road of sustainable development if its high growth level is being translated into economic prosperity. Provisions of employment opportunities, poverty alleviation, ascent literacy rate, ameliorated healthcare facilities and availability of electricity, are the parts and parcels that could guarantee sustainable economic growth coinciding overall well-being of the individuals.