Monday, January 24, 2022

Pakistan Cut Public Debt in Half On Musharraf's Watch in 1999-2008

In 1999, President Pervez Musharraf inherited a massive debt of over 100% of GDP run up by the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) governments in 1990s. Musharraf's policies not only revived the bankrupt economy but also brought down debt to 52% of GDP by 2007. 

Pakistan Debt to GDP 1995-2021. Source: IMF



PPP Government's 2008 Letter to IMF:

In a letter to the International Monetary Fund in 2008, the PPP government hailed Musharraf's economic record without mentioning his name in the following words:

"Pakistan's economy witnessed a major economic transformation in the last decade (2000-2008). The country's real GDP increased from $60 billion to $170 billion, with per capita income rising from under $500 to over $1000 during 2000-07.....the volume of international trade increased from $20 billion to nearly $60 billion. The improved macroeconomic performance enabled Pakistan to re-enter the international capital markets in the mid-2000s. Large capital inflows financed the current account deficit and contributed to an increase in gross official reserves to $14.3 billion at end-June 2007. Buoyant output growth, low inflation, and the government's social policies contributed to a reduction in poverty and improvement in many social indicators". (see MEFP, November 20, 2008, Para 1).

Savings and Investments:

Domestic savings rate reached 18% of the GDP and foreign direct investment (FDI) hit a record level of $5.4 billion in 2007-8. This combination of domestic and foreign investments nearly tripled the size of the economy from $60 billion in 1999 to $170 billion in 2007, according to IMF. Exports nearly tripled from about $7 billion in 1999-2000 to $22 billion in 2007-2008, adding millions of more jobs. Pakistan was lifted from a poor, low-income country with per capita income of just $500 in 1999 to a middle-income country with per capita income exceeding $1000 in 2007.

FDI in Musharraf years came in many sectors, ranging from telecommunications to manufacturing.
Several mobile phone and Internet service operators built networks worth billions of dollars. Without this telecom infrastructure, there would be no tech industry, no freelancers and no fast-growing tech exports today.

New cement plants met growing demand that more than doubled cement consumption, FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) sector took off to meet demand from growing middle class and production of cars and motorcycles jumped. 


Human Capital Development: 

In addition to the economic revival, Musharraf focused on the social sector as well. Pakistan's Human Development Index (HDI) score grew an average rate of 2.7% per year under President Musharraf from 2000 to 2007, and then its pace slowed to 0.7% per year in 2008 to 2012 under elected politicians, according to the 2013 Human Development Report titled “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World”.



Primary Enrollment Source: Economic Survey of Pakistan

Youth Literacy Rate Source: Economic Survey of Pakistan

Overall, Pakistan's human development score rose by 18.9% during the Musharraf years and increased just 3.4% under elected leadership since 2008. The news on the human development front got even worse in the last three years, with HDI growth slowing down as low as 0.59% — a paltry average annual increase of under 0.20 per cent. Going further back to the  decade of 1990s when the civilian leadership of the country alternated between PML (N) and PPP,  the increase in Pakistan's HDI was 9.3% from 1990 to 2000, less than half of the HDI gain of 18.9% on Musharraf's watch from 2000 to 2007.

R&D Spending Jumped 7-fold as % of GDP 1999-2007 Source: World Bank

Acceleration of HDI growth during Musharraf years was not an accident.  Not only did Musharraf's policies accelerate economic growth, helped create 13 million new jobs, cut poverty in half and halved the country's total debt burden in the period from 2000 to 2007, his government also ensured significant investment and focus on education and health care. The annual budget for higher education increased from only Rs 500 million in 2000 to Rs 28 billion in 2008, to lay the foundations of the development of a strong knowledge economy, according to former education minister Dr. Ata ur Rehman. Student enrollment in universities increased from 270,000 to 900,000 and the number of universities and degree awarding institutions increased from 57 in 2000 to 137 by 2008. Government R&D spending jumped from 0.1% of GDP in 1999 to 0.7% of GDP in 2007. In 2011, a Pakistani government commission on education found that public funding for education has been cut from 2.5% of GDP in 2007 to just 1.5% - less than the annual subsidy given to the various PSUs including Pakistan Steel and PIA, both of which  continue to sustain huge losses due to patronage-based hiring.

Pakistan's High-Tech Exports Tripled as % of Manufactured Exports. Source: World Bank

Pakistan textile exports more than doubled from $5.2 billion to more than $11 billion during the Musharraf years. Exports soared 19.43% in 2001, 20% in 2004, 24.5% in 2005 and 11.23% in 2006, all on President Musharraf's watch, according to "The Rise and Fall of Pakistan's Textile Industry: An Analytical View" published by Javed Memon, Abdul Aziz and Muhammad Qayyum.     


Pakistan Textile Exports Growth. Source: Javed Memon

Pakistan experienced rapid economic and human capital growth in years 2000 to 2008 on President Pervez Musharraf's watch. Savings, investments and exports hit new records and the rate of increase in human development reached new highs not seen before or since this period.  Without this human capital, there would be no tech industry, no freelancers and no fast-growing tech exports today.

Employment Growth in South Asia. Source: World Bank

Pakistan's employment growth was the highest in South Asia region in 2000-2010, followed by Nepal, Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka in that order, according to a World Bank report titled "More and Better Jobs in South Asia".

Comparing Per Capita GDP Trajectory in South Asia. Source: The Economist

Until 2010, Bangladesh was a laggard in South Asia region. Its per capita income was about half of Pakistan's. Now Bangladesh's per capita GDP is higher than both India's and Pakistan's. What changed? The biggest change is Bangladeshi leader Shaikh Hasina's decision to stifle the unruly Opposition and the media to bring political and economic stability to the South Asian nation of 160 million people. It has eliminated a constant sense of crisis and assured investors and businesses of continuity of government policies. With development taking precedence over democracy, Shaikh Hasina followed the example of Asian Tigers  by focusing on export-led economic growth of her country. She incentivized the export-oriented garment industry and invested in human development. Bangladesh now outperforms India and Pakistan in a whole range of socioeconomic indicators: exports, economic growth, infant mortality rate, primary school enrollment, fertility rate and life expectancy.    

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Friday, January 21, 2022

Pakistan Nuclear Power Generation Soared 66% in 2021

Nuclear power plants in Pakistan generated 15,540 GWH of electricity in 2021, a jump of 66% over 2020. Overall, Pakistan's power plants produced 136,572 GWH of power, an increase of 10.6% over 2020, indicating robust economic recovery amid the COVID19 pandemic. 

Pakistan Electric Power Generation. Source: Arif Habib


Hydroelectric dams contributed 37,689 GWH of electricity or 27.6% of the total power generated, making hydropower the biggest contributor to power generated in the country. It is followed by coal (20%), LNG (19%) and nuclear (11.4%). 


Cost Per Unit of Electricity in Pakistan. Source: Arif Habib

Nuclear offers the lowest cost of fuel for electricity (one rupee per KWH) while furnace oil is the most expensive (Rs. 22.2 per KWH). 
 
Pakistan Electric Power Generation Fuel MiX. Source: Arif Habib

Construction of 1,100 MW nuclear power reactor K2 unit in Karachi was completed by China National Nuclear Corporation in 2019, according to media reports. Fuel is being loaded in a similar reactor unit K3 which will add another 1,100 MW of nuclear power to the grid in 2022. Chinese Hualong One reactors being installed in Pakistan are based on improved Westinghouse AP1000 design which is far safer than Chernobyl and Fukushima plants.  

The biggest and most important source of low-carbon energy in Pakistan is its hydroelectric power plants, followed by nuclear power. Pakistan ranked third in the world by adding nearly 2,500 MW of hydropower in 2018, according to Hydropower Status Report 2019.  China added the most capacity with the installation of 8,540 megawatts, followed by Brazil (3,866 MW), Pakistan (2,487 MW), Turkey (1,085 MW), Angola (668 MW), Tajikistan (605 MW), Ecuador (556 MW), India (535 MW), Norway (419 MW) and Canada (401 MW).

New Installed Hydroelectric Power Capacity in 2018. Source: Hydroworld.com


Hydropower now makes up about 28% of the total installed capacity of 33,836 MW as of February, 2019.   WAPDA reports contributing 25.63 billion units of hydroelectricity to the national grid during the year, “despite the fact that water flows in 2018 remained historically low.” This contribution “greatly helped the country in meeting electricity needs and lowering the electricity tariff for the consumers.”

Pakistan's Current Account Balance vs International Oil Prices. Source: Arif Habib


Recent history shows that Pakistan's current account deficits vary with international oil prices.  Pakistan's trade deficits balloon with rising imported energy prices. One of the keys to managing external account balances lies in reducing the country's dependence on foreign oil and gas. 


Pakistan Power Generation Fuel Mix. Source: Third Pole

It is true that Pakistan has relied on imported fossil fuels to generate electricity. The cost of these expensive imported fuels like furnace oil mainly used by independent power producers (IPPs) has been and continues to be a major contributor to the "exaggerated external demand driven by its rentier economy" referred to by Atif Mian in a recent tweet. However, Pakistan has recently been adding hydronuclear and indigenous coal-fired power plants to gradually reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels. 

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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Pakistan Economy "Not in a Good Place"? Atif Mian's Gloom Justified?

Pakistani-American economist Atif Mian has recently analyzed Pakistan's economy in a series of tweets. He has said "Pakistan's economy is not in a good place", adding that the nation's "per capita income has not risen in 3 years (in fact down slightly)". He has particularly mentioned the country's "exaggerated external demand driven by its rentier economy", "flawed energy policy" and "a broken economic decision system" among the main causes for poor economic performance.  Is Atif Mian's diagnosis correct? Is the official reported data Atif Mian using accurate? What is the current PTI government doing or not doing to correct the problems identified by Mr. Mian? Let's try and assess the situation. 

Economist Atif Mian's Tweet on Pakistan Economy


Per Capita Income:

Pakistan's officially reported GDP and per capita incomes are grossly understated. These are based on the last economic census that was done from April 2003 to December 2003 and published in 2005. The last agriculture census was in 2010, and livestock census in 2006, according to Dr. Ishrat Husain, former governor of The State Bank of Pakistan. The country's economy has changed significantly since then, adding several new economic activities while others have become less important.  For example, the Quantum Index of Large Scale Manufacturing (QIM) with 2005-06 base year gives a weight to textiles of 20.9% (Yarn 13.7 and cloth 7.2). But the textile industry has moved up to higher value added products as reflected in its exports. The value added textiles (non-yarn and non-cloth) now make almost 80% of the total textile exports. These changes are not reflected in current GDP calculations. 

In its 2014 annual report, the State Bank of Pakistan talked about a number of new sectors that are either under-reported or not covered at all: "In terms of LSM growth, a number of sectors that are showing strong performance; (for example, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector; plastic products; buses and trucks; and even textiles), are either under reported, or not even covered. The omission of such important sectors from official data coverage, probably explains the apparent disconnect between overall economic activity in the country and the hard numbers in LSM."

Bangladesh just rebased its GDP in 2020-21 to 2015-16. This has boosted its per capita income by double digits for every year since 2015-16.  Bangladesh's per capita income for the 2015-16 fiscal year has now gone up to $1,737 from $1,465 in the old calculation. For the 2019-2020 fiscal, the per capita income has gone up to $2,335 from $2,024.  The new GDP estimate covers 21 sectors, up from 15 sectors previously.  India last rebased its GDP in 2015, a change that bumped up its per capita GDP by double digits. Nigeria's last rebasing in 2012 increased the size of its economy (GDP) by nearly 90%. Pakistan's current base year is 2005-6. Rebasing which is now long overdue will almost certainly increase Pakistan's per capita income by double digits. 

In this age of big data, it is important for Pakistan to ensure that its bureaucracy at Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) keeps the national economic data as current as possible. PBS should release the results of the Census of Manufacturing Industries CMI 2015-16 and the finance ministry should rebase Pakistan's economy to year 2015-16 to better reflect the current economic realities. This data is extremely important for businesses, investors, lenders and policymakers. 

Energy Mix:

It is true that Pakistan has relied on imported fossil fuels to generate electricity. The cost of these expensive imported fuels like furnace oil mainly used by independent power producers (IPPs) has been and continues to be a major contributor to the "exaggerated external demand driven by its rentier economy" referred to by Atif Mian. However, Pakistan has recently been adding hydronuclear and indigenous coal-fired power plants. 

Pakistan Power Generation Fuel Mix. Source: Third Pole


Construction of a 1,100 MW nuclear power reactor K2 unit in Karachi has been completed by China National Nuclear Corporation, according to media reports. A similar reactor unit K3 will add another 1,100 MW of nuclear power to the grid, bringing the total nuclear power installed capacity of Pakistan to 3,630 MW (12% of total power) by the end of 2022.  Hualong One reactors being installed in Pakistan are based on improved Westinghouse AP1000 design which is far safer than Chernobyl and Fukushima plants.  In addition, Pakistan is also generating  9,389  MW (about 28% of total power) of low-carbon hydroelectric power in response to rising concerns about climate change. 

Hydroelectric dams contributed 37,689 GWH of electricity or 27.6% of the total power generated, making hydropower the biggest contributor to power generated in the country. It is followed by coal (20%), LNG (19%) and nuclear (11.4%). 


Cost Per Unit of Electricity in Pakistan. Source: Arif Habib

Nuclear offers the lowest cost of fuel for electricity (one rupee per KWH) while furnace oil is the most expensive (Rs. 22.2 per KWH). 


Pakistan Exports Trend 2011-21. Courtesy of Ali Khizer


External Accounts Balance:

Pakistan is the world's sixth largest labor exporter with nearly 10 million Pakistanis working overseas. These workers sent home $31 billion in remittances calendar year 2021 (CY2021), up 19% from CY2020. In addition, Pakistan merchandise exports hit a new record of $28.3 billion in CY2021. Together, Pakistan's merchandise exports and overseas worker remittances added up to nearly $60 billion in 2021. 

Pakistan Textile Exports Trend 2011-21. Courtesy of Ali Khizer



Exports of textiles that make up the bulk of Pakistani exports jumped 32% from $13.1 billion in CY2020 to $17.3 billion in CY2021. The country's technology exports soared 40% to $2.5 billion in CY2021.  “So far, (the) country’s exports of non-traditional products, including information technology, have grown by 60 percent in the last four months," says Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood. 

Pakistan's Current Account Balance vs International Oil Prices. Source: Arif Habib


Recent history shows that Pakistan's current account deficits vary with international oil prices.  Pakistan's trade deficits balloon with rising imported energy prices. One of the keys to managing external account balances lies in reducing the country's dependence on foreign oil and gas. 

Summary:

Professor Atif Mian's criticism of Pakistan's economy is partially valid but his pessimism is unwarranted. He is working with flawed data based on an economic census conducted more than 15 years ago.  This data does not truly reflect current economic activities, per capita incomes and productivity. Pakistani bureaucracy needs to ensure that the underlying data for GDP and productivity is regularly updated to inform businessmen, investors, lenders and policymakers. Pakistan is also significantly boosting its foreign exchange earnings through exports and remittances from overseas workers. The issue of reliance on expensive fossil fuel imports is also being addressed by building more hydro, nuclear and renewable energy. At the same time, indigenous coal-fired power plants are also being added. Unlike Atif Mian, I do see light at the end of the tunnel. 

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Friday, January 14, 2022

Pakistan Pursuing Ambitious Program to Build Social Safety Net

Pakistan's PTI government has built South Asia’s first digital National Socio-Economic Registry (NSER) as a part of its ambitious effort to build a basic social safety net. The Ehsaas (also known as BISP- Benazir Income Support)) program's socio-economic registry includes household information by  geography, age, income, education, health, disability, employment, energy consumption, land and livestock holdings etc. Ehsaas Programs include both Unconditional Cash Transfers (UCT) and Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT). Unconditional Cash Transfers are made only to people living in extreme poverty or distress. Conditional Cash Transfers like Waseela-e-Taleem and Nashonuma  are given for education and nutrition respectively.  

Development of Ehsaas Social Registry. Source: Maintains

The National Socio-economic Registry will be regularly updated to keep it current and deliver services to the Pakistanis most in need. The effort started in earnest in 2020 to hand out Rs. 12,000 per family to 3 million most affected by the COVID19 lockdown. Here's how a Pakistani government website describes the digital registry architecture:

"The Cognitive API architecture for Ehsaas’ National Socio-Economic Registry 2021 is one of the six main pillars of ‘One Window Ehsaas’. With the survey, which is building the registry currently 90.5% complete nationwide, Ehsaas is firming up its plans to open data sharing and data access services for all executing agencies under Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division (PASSD). Data sharing will be done through the Cognitive API Architecture approach. The deployment of Ehsaas API architecture for data sharing will allow executing agencies to access data from the unified registry in real-time to validate beneficiary information. This will empower them to ascertain eligibility of potential beneficiaries". 

Universal Healthcare Map. Source: World Population Review


More recently, the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) governments in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab provinces have rolled out Sehat Cards to provide free health coverage to cover tens of millions of people. This is essentially a government-funded health insurance program run by insurance companies to cover up to one million rupees worth of care each year at government certified public and private clinics and hospitals. It represents a major expansion of this program which was first introduced in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. It is now available to residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, Balochistan, Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Kashmir, and Tharparkar district in Sindh under the Sehat Sahulat Program.    

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Monday, January 10, 2022

Pakistani-American Surgeon Transplants Pig Heart into A Human Patient

Pakistani-American heart surgeon Dr. Mohammad Mansoor Mohiuddin and Dr. Bartley Griffith performed the first successful genetically-modified pig heart transplant into a human patient today at University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) hospital in Baltimore, according to the University's press release. Considered one of the world’s foremost experts on transplanting animal organs, known as xenotransplantation, Muhammad M. Mohiuddin, MD, Professor of Surgery at UMSOM, joined the UMSOM faculty five years ago and established the Cardiac Xenotransplantation Program with Dr. Griffith. Dr. Mohiuddin serves as the program’s Scientific/Program Director and Dr. Griffith as its Clinical Director.    

Dr. Mohammad Mansoor Mohiuddin



Dr. Mohiuddin is a 1989 graduate of the Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, Pakistan. He came to the United States in the early 1990s and did a fellowship in Transplantation Biology and Immunology, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery Harrison Department of Surgical Research, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA . 

A practicing Muslim, he believes it is acceptable to use pig organs if it helps save human life.  Some Islamic scholars have ruled that it is prohibited to use pig for organ transplants. However, almost all research in the field of xenotransplantation is now carried out using pigs. Researchers say pigs are a preferred choice because they grow fast and the size of their organs is similar to that of humans. There is a worldwide shortage of organ donors. Successful use of genetically modified pig hearts and other organs will help save lives in the absence of human donors. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization for the surgery on New Year’s Eve through its expanded access (compassionate use) provision. It is used when an experimental medical product, in this case the genetically-modified pig’s heart, is the only option available for a patient faced with a serious or life-threatening medical condition. The authorization to proceed was granted in the hope of saving the patient’s life, according to a UMSOM press release. 

 “This is the culmination of years of highly complicated research to hone this technique in animals with survival times that have reached beyond nine months. The FDA used our data and data on the experimental pig to authorize the transplant in an end-stage heart disease patient who had no other treatment options,” said Dr. Mohiuddin. “The successful procedure provided valuable information to help the medical community improve this potentially life-saving method in future patients.”  

About 30% of the 800,000 doctors, or about 240,000 doctors, practicing in America are of foreign origin, according to Catholic Health Association of the United States. Predictions vary, but according to the American Association of Medical Colleges, by 2025 the U.S. will be short about 160,000 physicians. This gap will most likely be filled by more foreign doctors.

Foreign Doctors in US, UK. Source: OECD



As of 2013, there were over 12,000 Pakistani doctors, or about 5% of all foreign physicians and surgeons, in practice in the United States.  Pakistan is the third largest source of foreign-trained doctors. India tops with 22%, or 52,800 doctors. It is followed by the Philippines with 6%, or 14,400 foreign-trained doctors. India and Pakistan also rank as the top two sources of foreign doctors in the United Kingdom.

Over half a million Pakistani-Americans constitute the 7th largest Asian ethnic group in the United States. Pakistani-Americans are young, well-educated and prosperous. Median age for Pakistani-Americans is 31.7 years. 60% have at least a bachelor's degree. Their median household income is $87,510 a year.  Last year, the remittances from Pakistani-Americans jumped 58% to $2.75 billion.

Here's a video clip of Dr. Mohiuddin describing the procedure and the science behind genetic modification of pig heart for human transplant:

https://youtu.be/D00T14balpI

 


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Sunday, January 9, 2022

Pakistan Gets First Woman Supreme Court Judge Despite Top Judges' Opposition

Judge Ayesha Malik has been confirmed as Pakistan's first woman Supreme Court judge in the face of strong opposition by the majority of sitting judges of the top court and Pakistan Bar Council. It was two  affirmative votes by the PTI government representatives that helped her win 5-4 confirmation in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). Only two of the five sitting Supreme Court judges who are members of the SJC supported her confirmation. 

Justice Ayesha Malik


The historic nomination of Justice Ayesha Malik was supported by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed,  Justice Umar Ata Bandial, ex-judge Sarmad Jalal Osmany, Law Minister Barrister Farogh Naseem and Attorney General (AG) Khalid Jawed Khan. It was opposed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) representative Akhtar Hussain opposed the selection.    

Justice Ayesha Malik is a Harvard Law School graduate. She started her legal career working with Mr. Fakhurddin G. Ebrahim at Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim & Co. in Karachi in 1997. Then in 2001 she joined the law practice of Rizvi, Isa, Afridi and Agnell as the head of the firm's Corporate & Litigation Department in Lahore. Justice Ayesha Malik was appointed to the Lahore High Court in 2012 where she made a historic ruling banning the "two-finger test" in rape cases.  Justice Malik said the test was "humiliating" and had "no forensic value".     

Justice Malik's appointment to the nation's highest court is part of a silent social revolution in Pakistan with a rising number of women joining the workforce and moving up in public and private institutions. However, the status of women in Pakistan continues to vary considerably across different classes, regions, and the rural/urban divide due to uneven socioeconomic development and the impact of tribal, feudal, and urban social customs on women's lives. While some women are soaring in the skies as pilots of passenger jets and supersonic fighter planes, others are being murdered for defying tribal traditions.  


Female Labor Participation Rates in South Asia



Pakistan's female labor force participation rate (22%) has recently surpassed the rate in India (21%) but still remains very low relative to the global average of 47%. Women's education and literacy levels remain low in Pakistan but the gender gap is declining in terms of literacy rates and mean years of schooling, according to Pakistan Labor Force Survey 2017-18.  There is about a one year gap between men and women in terms of education attained. On average, a Pakistani male born after 1995 will leave school in 8th grade. A female born at the same time will leave in 7th grade.

A 2020 global survey conducted by Payoneer, a global payments platform company based in Silicon Valley, showed that Pakistani women freelancers are earning $22 an hour, 10% more than the $20 an hour earned by men. While Pakistani male freelancers earnings are at par with global average, Pakistani female earnings are higher than the global average for freelancers. Digital gig economy is not only helping women earn more than men but it is also reducing barriers to women's labor force participation in the country. The survey also concludes that having a university degree does not help you earn more in the growing gig economy. The survey was conducted in 2015.

Freelancers Hourly Rate by Gender. Source: Payoneer

An average Pakistani freelancer working 34 hours a week at $20 an hour earns $34,000 a year, or Rs. 5.7 million a year, a small fortune for a young Pakistani. This is one of the upsides of the online global labor market for skilled young men and women in developing nations like Pakistan. Sometimes freelancing experience leads to tech startups in Pakistan.


Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Double Digit Rise in Energy Consumption Confirms Pakistan's Economic Recovery in 2021

Oil consumption in Pakistan jumped 19% to 20.8 million tons in 2021, a strong indication of the country's economic recovery from the COVID-impacted 2020. In addition to oil, Pakistanis also consumed nearly 4 billion cubic foot of natural gas every day. Energy is fundamental to the functioning of any economy. 

Pakistan Oil Consumption. Source: Arif Habib

Pakistan's furnace oil consumption has been declining for several years as power producers continued to switch fuel to liquified natural gas (LNG) in recent years. However, the sudden jump in LNG prices forced them to use more furnace oil in year 2021 than in 2020. There was also a big jump in diesel (HSD) and petrol (MS) with a rise in number of vehicles on the nation's roads. 

Pakistan LNG Imports 2017-2021 in million tons 


 
Pakistan Natural Gas Consumption in Billion Cubic Feet Per Day



“Year 2021 proved to be remarkable for the automobile sector as there was a volumetric sales growth of 90% on a year-on-year basis to 210,048 units compared to 110,540 units in 2020,” said Arif Habib Limited analyst Arsalan Hanif.

Pakistan Auto Sales. Source: Arif Habib


Motorcycle sales in the first 9 months of CY 2-21 were 1.4 million units, up 37.5% vs the 2020 and 13.0% vs the 2019. Atlas Honda dominated the motorcycle market with sales up 52.2%.  Soaring cement consumption, rising auto sales and double digit increase in energy consumption in Pakistan in 2021 confirm that Pakistan's recovery from the COVID-induced slump is well underway.  


Barring any adverse impact of the Omicron variant of the COVID 19 virus, Pakistan's GDP is likely to grow at least 5% in the current fiscal year ending in June, 2022. The country's average economic growth of 5% a year has been faster than the global average since the 1960s. However, it has been slower than that of its peers in East Asia. It has essentially been constrained by Pakistan's recurring balance of payment (BOP) crises as explained by Thirlwall's Law. Pakistan has been forced to seek IMF bailouts 14 times in the last 70 years to deal with its BOP crises. This has happened in spite of the fact that remittances from overseas Pakistanis have grown 30X since 2000. Every time Pakistan has faced a balance of payments crisis, the result has been massive currency devaluation, high inflation and slower growth for a period of multiple years. This is exactly what Pakistan's current government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan is dealing with right now.  This pain is the result of years of flat exports, soaring imports and excessive debt taken on during former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's PMLN government from 2013 to 2018.  The best way for Pakistan to accelerate its growth beyond 5% is to boost its exports by investing in export-oriented industries, and by incentivizing higher savings and investments. 

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Pakistan 2021 Year End Review: Highs, Lows and Issues

The Covid19 pandemic that started in late 2019 continued to ravage the world in 2021. Europe, India and the United States were among the most impacted by it. Pakistan was able to control it better than its large eastern neighbor but it, too, was hit by double digit global inflation. Pakistan's economic recovery began in earnest with higher GDP growth, record exports and remittances from the Pakistani diaspora. It was a banner year for Pakistan's technology startups with over $300 million of venture investments, about 15 times higher than the year 2020. The war in Afghanistan ended with the US troops withdrawal and the fall of Kabul to the Taliban. Many risks and uncertainties remain as Pakistan and the world enter Year 2022. Let us hope and pray that the new year brings peace and prosperity for all. 

Happy New Year 2022



Here is a summary of some of the key highlights, lowlights and issues for Pakistan's year 2021: 

Highlights: 


1. Banner year for tech startups in Pakistan

2. Exports, remittances and Roshan Digital Accounts hit new records 

3. Demographic dividend and record remittances 

4. Pakistan's online workforce 3rd largest in the world 

5. India variant, later named Delta variant, sparked a new wave of covid that Pakistan controlled.  Over 150 million vaccine doses administered. 

6. Pakistan presented its plans and goals to manage global climate change at COP26 conference in Glasgow, Scotland.  

7. Sehat card launched in Punjab after KP, a major step toward universal healthcare

8. Economic recovery led by construction (cement, infrastructure, housing) manufacturing (cars, motorcycles, tractors) and agriculture (bumper crops) 

9. Over 20 million mobile phones assembled in Pakistan  Number of mobile broadband subscriptions reached 110 million. 

10. Textile boom, record corporate profits, new companies registrations 

11. Pakistan is on track to become the world’s 7th largest consumer market 

12. War in Afghanistan ended with US withdrawal and the fall of Kabul to the Taliban 

13. OIC Conference on Afghanistan in Islamabad

14. Pakistan National Security Policy document launched

Lowlights: 

1. Inflation up, Deficits up, Gas shortages 

2. Going into 3rd year of pandemic with Omicron surging 

3. PTI popularity down 

Uncertainties and Risks: 

1. Humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan 

2. Impact of Omicron

3. Soaring current account deficits 

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Thursday, December 23, 2021

India Is Among The World's Most Unequal Countries

India is one of the most unequal countries in the world, according to the World Inequality Report 2022. There is rising poverty and hunger. Nearly 230 million middle class Indians have slipped below the poverty line, constituting a 15 to 20% increase in poverty. India ranks 94th among 107 nations ranked by World Hunger Index in 2020. Other South Asians have fared better: Pakistan (88), Nepal (73), Bangladesh (75), Sri Lanka (64) and Myanmar (78) – and only Afghanistan has fared worse at 99th place. Meanwhile, the wealth of Indian billionaires jumped by 35% during the pandemic. 

Income Inequality Map. Source: World Inequality Report 2022

Unemployment Crisis: 

India lost 6.8 million salaried jobs and 3.5 million entrepreneurs in November alone. Many among the unemployed can no longer afford to buy food, causing a significant spike in hunger. The country's economy is finding it hard to recover from COVID waves and lockdowns, according to data from multiple sources. At the same time, the Indian government has reported an 8.4% jump in economic growth in the July-to-September period compared with a contraction of 7.4% for the same period a year earlier.  

Income Inequality By Regions. Source: World Inequality Report 2022


Income & Wealth Inequality. Source: World Inequality Report 2022


Rising Poverty:

Nearly 230 million middle class Indians have slipped below the poverty line, constituting a 15 to 20% increase in poverty since Covid-19 struck last year, according to Pew Research. Middle class consumption has been a key driver of economic growth in India. Erosion of the middle class will likely have a significant long-term impact on the country's economy. “India, at the end of the day, is a consumption story,” says Tanvee Gupta Jain, UBS chief India economist, according to Financial Times. “If you never recovered from the 2020 wave and then you go into the 2021 wave, then it’s a concern.”

Increasing Hunger:  

India ranks 94th among 107 nations ranked by World Hunger Index in 2020. Other South Asians have fared better: Pakistan (88), Nepal (73), Bangladesh (75), Sri Lanka (64) and Myanmar (78) – and only Afghanistan has fared worse at 99th place. The COVID19 pandemic has worsened India's hunger and malnutrition. Tens of thousands of Indian children were forced to go to sleep on an empty stomach as the daily wage workers lost their livelihood and Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in the South Asian nationPakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan opted for "smart lockdown" that reduced the impact on daily wage earners. China, the place where COVID19 virus first emerged, is among 17 countries with the lowest level of hunger. 

Rich Getting Richer:

The wealth of Indian billionaires increased by 35% during the lockdown and by 90 per cent since 2009 to $422.9 billion, ranking India sixth in the world after the US, China, Germany, Russia, and France, according to Oxfam

India’s 100 top billionaires saw their fortunes increase by Rs 12,97,822 crore since March last year when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country and this amount is enough to give 138 million poorest Indians a cheque for Rs 94,045 each, according to a report in The Business Standard

Share of Income of Richest 1% in South Asia
Inequality in Pakistan:

A United Nations report on inequality in Pakistan published in April 2021 revealed that the richest 1% Pakistanis take 9% of the national income.  A quick comparison with other South Asian nations shows that the 9% income share for the top 1% in Pakistan is lower than 15.8% in Bangladesh and 21.4% in India. These inequalities result mainly from a phenomenon known as "elite capture" that allows a privileged few to take away a disproportionately large slice of public resources such as public funds and land for their benefit. 

Income Distribution by Quintiles in Pakistan. Source: UNDP

Elite Capture:

Elite capture, a global phenomenon,  is a form of corruption. It describes how public resources are exploited by a few privileged individuals and groups to the detriment of the larger population. 

A recently published report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has found that the elite capture in Pakistan adds up to an estimated $17.4 billion - roughly 6% of the country's economy. 

Pakistan's most privileged groups include the corporate sectorfeudal landlordspoliticians and the  military. The UN Development Program's NHDR for Pakistan, released last week, focused on issues of inequality in the country of 220 million people. 

Ms. Kanni Wignaraja, assistant secretary-general and regional chief of the UNDP, told Aljazeera that Pakistani leaders have taken the findings of the report “right on” and pledged to focus on prescriptive action. “My hope is that there is strong intent to review things like the current tax and subsidy policies, to look at land and capital access", she added. 

Inequality in Pakistan. Source: UNDP

Income Inequality:

The richest 1% of Pakistanis take 9% of the national income, according to the UNDP report titled "The three Ps of inequality: Power, People, and Policy". It was released on April 6, 2021. Comparison of income inequality in South Asia reveals that the richest 1% in Bangladesh and India claim 15.8% and 21.4% of national income respectively.

In addition to income inequality, the UNDP report describes the inequality of opportunity in terms of access to services, work with dignity and accessibility. It is based on exhaustive statistical analysis at national and provincial levels, and includes new inequality indices for child development, youth, labor and gender. Qualitative research, through focus groups with marginalized communities, has also been undertaken, and the NHDR 2020 Inequality Perception Survey conducted. The NHDR 2020 has been guided by a diverse panel of Advisory Council members, including policy makers, development practitioners, academics, and UN representatives.

Summary:

Neoliberal policies in emerging markets like India have spurred economic growth in last few decades. However, the gains from this rapid growth have been heavily skewed in favor of the rich. The rich have gotten richer while the poor have languished. The average per capita income in India has tripled in recent decades but the minimum dietary intake has fallen. According to the World Food Program, a quarter of the world's undernourished people live in India. The COVID19 pandemic has further widened the gap between the rich and poor. 

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