Impact of Globalization and Liberalization on Growth, Employment and Poverty
A Case Study of Pakistan
While globalization is viewed as a key to future economic development, it is also argued that it increases poverty, threatens employment and living standards of the poor. Like many other developing countries, Pakistan also attempted to integrate its economy in the global economy through liberalizing its investment and trade regime within the framework of the IMF and the World Bank. A review of literature indicates that although a number of cross-country studies have shown a positive association between trade openness and economic growth, the recent work suggests that openness has no robust link with long-term growth. Thus, positive effects of liberalization on growth remain controversial. Evidence shows that despite numerous highly attractive incentives offered to foreign investors, Pakistan’s performance in attracting the foreign investment has been poor. Similarly, despite the intensive trade liberalization, the trade performance has been dismal. The stabilization initially achieved proved to be short-lived due to the slippages in reform process occurred in the form of spread of tax exemption and concession leading to implementation of further stabilization measures. The repeated attempts to stabilize the economy together with liberalization and persistent devaluation of domestic currency pushed the economy in a vicious circle. The lowering of tariff rates led to a considerable loss of revenue and resulted in stagnant tax GDP ratio, resulting in reduction in development expenditure to reduce the budget deficit. The government sought to restrain aggregate demand not only by granting wage increases below the inflation rate but also by freezing employment in the public sector. These developments together with liberalization led to lower GDP growth, increased indebtedness, higher unemployment and thus higher poverty incidence during the period of liberalization. This adverse outcome is reflection of the fact that the country was asked by the IMF to cut its tariff rates swiftly before adopting to a new system of domestic taxation. The structural adjustment programmes designed by the IMF/World Bank take the poverty as a residual issue. Hence, earlier anti-poverty programmes in Pakistan reached a small fraction of the poor, partly because their total size was limited and partly because of poor targeting. Hostility of globalization process suggests a broader approach and allocation of more funds for poverty reduction. For future growth and poverty reduction strategies, the issue of achieving higher growth must be combined with overall pattern of social progress and distribution.