I left New Zealand six years ago for Asia to take up a senior lecturing post at a leading high learning institution because my field of specialisation (Islamic Finance) has no demand, despite booming in the global business arena.
Returning to New Zealand in May 2012, my family and I decided to settle down in Palmerston North.
It is a peaceful and life-learning city, which I hope will allow me to complete my new book entitled ‘Islamic Microfinance Enterprise: Untapped potential.’
While on an Air New Zealand flight from Auckland to Palmerston North, my son asked as to why the aircraft was small, posing hardship in movement.
“We are moving to a small city, where the local economy is not performing well; it suffers from underutilisation and there is no economic activity to generate employment for wider community,” I replied.
Regrettably, farming, manufacturing and small businesses are going on, the country still has untapped potential, not only in natural resources but also in human capital.
New Zealand is following the same pathway like the rest of western world as a service economy, in which it cannot generate enough employment opportunities to keep its citizens in the country.
Human capital loss
Naturally, highly skilled and semi-skilled professionals continue to migrate to Australia and other countries where the employment opportunities are available. More than 150,000 New Zealanders moved across the Tasman last year.
Unfortunately, this number will continue to rise.
Sadly, New Zealand is losing its intellectual capital and human resources on whom the country spent millions of dollars in education and training.
Our politicians underestimated their potential to open markets for New Zealand’s products and services. They were busy then in finding ways and means of financing reconstruction of Christchurch.
Today, these politicians are busy selling the nation’s assets to international investors because they believe that such sales would reduce our national debt.
New Zealand’s economy is in the red zone and they have no time to discuss where it is heading and why our human capital is in flight.
They do not have time to set up a think tank group to find ways to reactivate the economy and give a shot in the arm to the economy, helping small businesses in the process.
Those in power should ask the hard question: “Why have other nations such as Turkey succeeded?
Turkey suffered from poor economic management and the inflation rate had reached an unacceptable 55% during the past decade.
But the country is a source of inspiration and a model of economic development to the rest of the world.
The country’s export income was $US$ 135billion in 2011, up from US$33 billion in 2002.
New Zealand needs paradigm shift in its policies and programmes.
We must welcome any good business idea from its experienced citizens.
It must consider what I can offer to Islamic investors.
We should have courses on Islamic banking, Islamic microfinance and youth entrepreneurship to attract students from Asia and the Middle East.
Training the trainers to capture the Middle East and Asia markets will stimulate our economy.
I believe these activities will bring New Zealand closer to Asia and the Middle East, accruing lasting benefits to our economy.
Dr Saad Al Harran is Business Consultant in Islamic Microfinance Enterprise and Youth Entrepreneurship. He lives in Palmerston North.