COVID-19 Can Change Pakistan’s Economic Outlook, For The Better
By promoting online business and managing business hours in the country, we can completely change Pakistan’s economic outlook. Coronavirus has opened new windows of opportunities for us, argues Muhammad Zaman.
COVID-19 brought a big disaster, but it also generated opportunities that Pakistan missed due to the limited vision and poor governance of its rulers. I think it is a difficult decision to restrict people’s movement. The government and people have readymade excuses to justify their actions. We cannot afford the lockdown but are we ready to pay the cost of the COVID-19 if the outbreak turns uncontrollable? I don’t think we can. But we can limit it with effective governance.
The decision to regulate market timings can change the fate and direction of the country. For example, if the government forces the markets to remain open from 8 am to 5 pm only, it could help us save electricity. Electricity deficit (load-shedding) has been a perennial problem for Pakistan, but it is more about our habits than the real problem. If we make better use of sunlight, we can reduce the electricity load significantly. Restaurants, vegetable shops, fruit shops, and milk shops may be allowed to remain open until 7 pm. Shopping centers should be engineered in a manner that the building would make use of the daylight to the fullest. The electricity thus saved can then be used in industry and agriculture. Exact statistics may not be available but it is observed that one-third of electricity is consumed between 6 and 11 pm.
The decision to shut down the markets at 5 pm can also reduce the number of vehicles on the roads in the evening. It can reduce carbon emissions, road congestions, air pollution, and noise. This will not only improve public health but may also improve our quality of life. This decision can turn out to be a blessing in disguise, generating even better economic opportunities.
This decision can enhance online business in Pakistan. Youth needs employment, and it can help us train our young workforce to start online businesses. We may need fresh legislation to protect both buyers and sellers in online business as there is a prevailing mistrust about buying and selling goods online. Federal, as well as provincial governments, can legislate to protect the online businesses and regulate them. Young people can start an online business with relatively lower investments.
These online businesses can create a parallel economy. We would not only have new businesses, but have an entirely new industry, its separate supply chains, postal services, and new opportunities for employment for young people. This can generate more opportunities and new vistas of earnings for young women as well.
On top of this, the COVID-19 has improved our environment to a great extent. In a nutshell, this outbreak has allowed us to develop a new worldview. Through effective legislation and proper implementation, along with providing new entrepreneurship opportunities to the youth, we can completely change our economy’s outlook.