Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Demonstrated Effectiveness as Crisis Leader

Prime Minister Imran Khan has effectively led Pakistan through multiple crises in the last 4 years. Khan inherited dangerously low forex reserves in 2018 which are now at  $23 billion, near the highest level in the nation's history. The COVID pandemic that hampered Pakistan's recovery has been handled well with the fully vaccinated rate for the eligible population at more than 75%. Not only has Khan deftly navigated his nation through these crises but his government has also revived the country's economy and grown exports by 26%.  Domestic savings rate recovered to nearly 17% after plunging to a low of 12% in 2018.  The year 2021 was a banner year for Pakistan's technology startups that raised over $350 million in funding, more than the amount raised in the previous 5 years. Manufacturing and construction industries are enjoying a boom last seen during the Musharraf years in 2000-2007. 

Pakistan has pursued an independent foreign policy under the PTI government. The nation has maintained friendly ties with all great powers, including China, Russia and the United States, as well the Islamic world. At a recent OIC foreign ministers' summit in Islamabad, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi attended and endorsed OIC's support for the movement for “right to self-determination” in Jammu and Kashmir.

Historic Inflation Rates in India & Pakistan. Source: World Bank



Rising prices of food and fuel are still a major issue for the people of Pakistan and the rest of the world. Recent geopolitical crisis with the Russian invasion of Ukraine has only served to accelerate global inflation. It presents a serious challenge to the governments in Pakistan and elsewhere in the world. 

Pakistan's opposition parties have recently come together to try to topple Prime Minister Imran Khan's government. These opposition parties have little in common other than their hunger for power. If they succeed, the country will plunge into yet another period of instability and uncertainty that will reverse progress made in the last few years to stabilize the country's economy. 

Pakistan's Exports:

Pakistan's exports of goods and services have jumped 26% to $25 billion in the first 8 months of the current fiscal year, up from $20 billion in the same period last year. A key reason for recurring balance of payments crises and IMF bailouts has been the lack of growth in Pakistan's exports. 

Pakistan Exports in First 8 Months (July 21-Feb 22) in FY 22. Source: Razzak Dawood


The 26% export growth is particularly welcome after several years of stagnation seen during the PML N government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. 

Job Creation: 

Pakistan’s economy created 5.5 million jobs during the past three years –on an average 1.84 million jobs a year, which is far higher than yearly average of creation of new jobs during the 2008-18 decade, according to the Labor Force Survey (LFS) published by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). 

Pakistan Employment By Sectors. Source: Pakistan Bureau of Statistics

For the first time in recorded history, the labor force participation rate in Pakistan is now higher than in India, according to the ILO/World Bank estimates.



Labor Participation Rates in India and Pakistan. Source: World Bank/ILO



Unemployment rate in Pakistan is just 4.3% in spite of COVID19 pandemic. Jobless rate in India is 8%, much higher than in Pakistan. 

Unemployment Rate in India and Pakistan. Source: ILO/World Bank



Savings Rate:

Pakistan's domestic savings rate recovered to nearly 17% after plunging to a low of 12% in 2018. Savings are extremely important for increased investment to spur GDP growth in any country, including Pakistan.

Pakistan Savings Rate. Source: Global Economy

IMF Bailout:

Pakistan's forex reserves were running dangerously low forcing the country to seek a $6 billion IMF bailout in 2018 to avoid default.  The total reserves now exceed $22 billion.

Reko Diq Mining Deal Revival: 

Prime Minister Imran Khan's government recently resolved an $11 billion in damages that the country faced for improperly canceling a huge copper-gold mining deal in Balochistan.  

Reko Diq is the world's 4th largest undeveloped copper-gold porphyry deposit with over 14 million tons of copper and 21 million ounces of gold. The project was abandoned in 2011 after a Pakistan Supreme Court bench headed by former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry canceled the mining license granted to Tethyan Copper Company (TCC), a joint venture between Canada's Barrick Gold and Antofagasta Minerals of Chile. TCC challenged the cancellation in the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Dispute (ICSID). On July 12, 2019, the ICSID Tribunal awarded TCC $5.894 billion plus interest of  $700,000 per day in damages against Pakistan. As of 1 March 2022, the award stood at $6.5 billion. The new agreement between Barrick Gold Corporation  and the governments of Pakistan and Balochistan does away with this award. It also increases the share of the project owned by Pakistan from 25% to 50%, brings in $10 billion investment, the largest single investment in the country, and creates 8,000 jobs. Reko Diq is part of the Tethyan metallogenic belt (TMB) that extends from the Balkans in Europe to Pakistan including Serbo-Macedonian, Anatolian, Takab, Kerman and Chagai metallogenic belts. It is believed to be rich in copper and gold deposits.

Manufacturing and Construction Boom: 

Large scale manufacturing grew by 8.2% in February 2022,  after posting 7.6% growth during July-Jan FY22.  

QIM Index 2019-22. Source: APP

Pakistan Large Scale Manufacturing Index. Source: Mettis Global

The LSMI Quantum Index Number (QIM) hit an all-time high of 136.2 points in January, 2022. It averaged 120 points during July-January (2021-22), up from 111.5 points during July-January (2020-21), showing growth of 7.6%, according to latest PBS data.

Cement shipments in Pakistan. Source: All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association


Pakistan cement production has increased by double digits to respond to demand for housing and infrastructure construction on Prime Minister Imran Khan's watch. 

Technology Boom:

The year 2021 was a banner year for technology startups in Pakistan.  There was a 437% jump in investments in the startups, raising a total of $352 million across 72 deals in 2021, according to Aljazeera

Pakistan Startup Investments. Source: Aljazeera

Pakistan technology exports have soared 30% to $1.7 billion in the first 8 months of the current fiscal year, according to the State Bank of Pakistan

Expansion of 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.  In addition, there are feeding centers (langars) for the hungry and shelters (panahgahs) for the homeless. 

OIC Foreign Ministers in Islamabad:

Recent conference of Islamic countries foreign ministers hosted by Pakistan in Islamabad was attended by 56 nations. Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi attended as a special guest. Here's an excerpt of the Islamabad Declaration issued at the conclusion of the two-day conference:

“We declare that the final settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions is indispensable for durable peace in South Asia. We reiterate our call on India to: a) reverse its unilateral and illegal measures instituted since 5th August 2019; b) cease its oppression and human rights violations against the Kashmiris in IIOJK; c) halt and reverse attempts to alter the demographic structure and to redraw electoral constituencies in IIOJK; and d) take concrete and meaningful steps for full implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir,”

Response to Indian hostility:

Prime Minister Imran Khan's government won praise for its handling of India's aggression with unprovoked air strikes in Balakot in February 2019. Pakistan responded with "Operation Swift Retort", shot down two Indian fighter jets and captured an Indian Air Force pilot. But Khan's government avoided further escalation of the incident. Similarly, Pakistan responded calmly to the "accidental firing" of Indian Brahmos cruise missile into Pakistan that could have easily escalated into a full-scale war between two nuclear-armed neighbors. 

No-Confidence Vote:

Pakistan's opposition parties have recently come together to try to topple Prime Minister Imran Khan's government. These opposition parties have little in common other than their hunger for power. If they succeed, the country will plunge into yet another period of instability and uncertainty that will reverse progress made in the last few years to stabilize the country's economy. 

42 comments:

Samir Sardana said...

Much is made out of the PKR depreciation to 185

FX depreciation is a tax on imports - which Pakistan needs

It is also a pretext to cut down on export susbsidies,& provide an incentive to reduce the export credit tenors

It also converts the PKR debts of PK exports into negative USD interest loans - due to PKR depreciation.

For some time to come,hydrocarbon imports will ensure that Pakistan has a trade deficit (except when Oil prices are 20 usd/ton or when remittances spike).Industrialists have to see the PKR as an opportunity, & make financing, procurement & exim strategies - based on this priori.

It is a golden opportunity - & even for importers,FX depreciation provides the pretext for price & cost pushes,to the local market , and their FX hedge skills,provide a pricing edge.

Exporters have it the best.Set up the manufacturing project in PKR,Import financing in PKR,Selling Forwards on the USD (backed by export contract),sell products in USD on usance credit (when USPR is rising and so are the PKR-USD forwards).dindooohindoo

Riaz Haq said...

#China Agrees to rollover a whopping $4.2 billion in #Pakistan #debt. The request for rollover was reportedly made by Prime Minister #ImranKhanPTI during his meeting with #Chinese President #XiJinping last month at #WinterOlympics. #CPEC #economy #PTI https://www.business-standard.com/article/international/china-agrees-to-rollover-4-2-bn-pakistan-debt-foreign-min-qureshi-122033001552_1.html

China on Wednesday acceded to Pakistan's request to rollover a whopping $4.2 billion debt repayment to provide a major relief for its all-weather ally, which is reeling under major economic crisis.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in his meeting with Pakistan counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the 3rd meeting of the 'Foreign Ministers of Neighbouring Countries of Afghanistan' in China's eastern Anhui province has conveyed Beijing's decision to rollover the debt.

In a video message, Qureshi said Wang has conveyed China's decision to rollover Pakistan $4.2 billion to enable Islamabad to tide over the current economic crisis.
"I am immensely happy to share that the Chinese FM has given a nod of approval on the rollover of commercial loan as well," Qureshi was quoted as saying by Pakistan daily Dawn.

The USD 4.2 billion debt, which was maturing this week, has been rolled over providing major financial relief to Pakistan, the daily reported.

"The procedural formalities are being completed by relevant authorities. An announcement will be made as soon as they're sorted," Qureshi said.
The request for rollover was reportedly made by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan during his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping here last month to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Pakistan continues to undergo a huge economic crisis despite heavy investment by China in the $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In addition to Pakistan, Sri Lanka, a major recipient of Chinese loans and investments, too has asked China to reschedule its debt as it is going into a crippling financial crisis.

China is considering a fresh request from Sri Lanka for a loan of USD one billion and a credit line of USD 1.5 billion, Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong told the media in Colombo last week. He, however, was silent about Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's request for rescheduling of debt repayments.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s economy created 5.5 million jobs during the past three years –on an average 1.84 million jobs a year, which is far higher than yearly average of creation of new jobs during the 2008-18 decade, reveals findings of Labour Force Survey (LFS) published by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).


https://tribune.com.pk/story/2350416/employment-boom-in-last-3-years


In terms of sector, the share of agriculture sector in total employment went down from 38.5% from three years ago to 37.4%. But the share of the industrial sector increased from 23.7% to 25.4%. The services sector share in employment also decreased from nearly 38% to 37.2%.

In absolute terms, during the past three years about 2.5 million jobs were created in the industrial sector compared with 2.1 million created during the five-year PML-N tenure. Another 1.4 million jobs were created in the agriculture sector and 1.7 million in the services sector. During the PML-N tenure around 4.3 million jobs had been created in the services sector.

-------

the Sindh province remained an exception where unemployment rate significantly went down to just 3.9% in three years as the unemployment rate increased in all other three provinces –the highest one recorded at 8.8% in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) during the last fiscal year, according to Labour Force Survey 2020-21.

The national unemployment rate stood at 6.3% at the end of the last fiscal year, which is better than the preceding year but higher than 5.8% recorded at the end of the PML-N tenure, according to the survey conducted by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. The Planning Ministry and the PBS have not yet officially released the survey.

The survey findings were endorsed on Wednesday by a technical committee, comprising official and independent experts, according to the officials of the Ministry of Planning and Development. The PBS covered 6,808 enumeration blocks and 99,904 households for the survey purposes.

The findings showed that the number of employed people increased to 67.3 million by June 2021 –up from 61.7 million at the end of the PML-N tenure.

However, the official unemployment rate that in June 2018 was 5.8% went up to 6.3% at the end of the third year of the PTI rule. The unemployment rate was the lowest in Sindh at 3.9% that is ruled by the Pakistan Peoples Party but it was highest in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at 8.8%, followed by 6.8% in Punjab –the two provinces governed by the ruling party.


A key reason for an overall low unemployment rate of 6.3% was inclusion of contributing family workers in the definition of the employed people whose share in total employment was above one-fifth. The share of employers remained unchanged at 1.4% in three years. The employees also went down from 42.4% to 42% in three years but own-account workers' share went up to 35.5%, according to the survey.

During 2018-23, on an average 1.84 million jobs a year were created –far better than the yearly average recorded during the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz and the PPP governments, according to the survey’s findings.

During the five year of the PPP (2008-13), about 6.9 million jobs had been created with a yearly average of 1.4 million. Compared to this, during the PML-N 2013-18’s tenure, about 5.7 million jobs had been created with an average of 1.14 million a year.

The average economic growth rate during the PML-N five years rule was significantly higher than the average growth rate during the PTI tenure. For the first time in the past 70 years, the country had also witnessed 1% contraction in the Gross Domestic Product during the fiscal year 2019-20 when the world was struck by the global pandemic.

The survey findings revealed that the sectoral contributions in job creation were uneven and the majority of the new jobs had been created in the industrial sector.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had promised to create 10 million jobs during his government tenure and the creation of 5.5 million jobs suggested that the economy might generate a total 9 million jobs by 2023 at the current rate.

Riaz Haq said...

Kalsoom Lakhani
@kalsoom82


1/This is *not* an April Fools Day joke - our latest
@Invest2Innovate
Insights graphic is out. In Q1 2022, Pakistani 🇵🇰 startups raised $163M in funding via 15 deals -- more than 50% of what was raised in all of 2021 ($350M) & > 7x of what was done in Q1 2021 ($22.2M)/

https://twitter.com/kalsoom82/status/1509907382503100416/photo/1

--------------
Most of this amount was thanks to larger later stage rounds, mostly achieved by the b2b e-comm space,
@BazaarTechPK
's $70M Series B (led by Tiger & Dragoneer),
@RetailoT
's $36M Series A (led by Graphene) & Jugnu's $22.5M Series A (strat alliance w/ Saudi b2b ecomm play Sary)/
----------

3/Fact that b2b e-comm players raised later stage rounds is a strong signal for the PK market, esp given concerns around a "cooling off" or a dearth of growth stage capital. Fintech also did well this Q1 albeit mainly via earlier stage deals, like
@nayapaypk
's $13M seed/

-------------

4/ Like other emerging markets, we oft see "triangle" of funding raised most by e-comm, fintech & logistics (
@TRUCK_IT_IN
's $13M made up total raised in logistics), since those sectors have symbiotic relationship. Kudos to our team for this amazing work, esp
@ShifraKhan
! 🚀💜

Riaz Haq said...

University of #Chicago International Relations Professor John Mearsheimer: “No country has a richer history of political interference in other countries than the #US” | Why #America foreign policies badly failed. #ImranKhan #Pakistan https://youtu.be/LW9S9XVjjLM via @YouTube

samir sardana said...

The trip and IMK support for Putin has tilted the US against IMK - when US was already bristling under the IMK sardonic quips on drones and using Pakistani air/land for US/NATO troops

However,It is better to let PRC control Putin and then navigate Pakistan into the Russian axis.As of now,the Russia-India link is such that,Russia will not cross the line with Pakistan.

Until then,it is better to play ambiguous between the US and Russia

Russia will,in any case,have to choose between PRC or India- very soon.

Better to make Russia bite the bullet before Pakistan places its bets on Pakistan

WHOEVER HAS SUPPORTED INDIA WAS DOOMED - THAT IS THE RECORD OF HISTORY ! dindooohindoo


Riaz Haq said...

From Arif Habib Securities:


Pakistan Economy
Rebased and revised GDPg at 5.57% for FY21 20-Jan-2022

The National Accounts Committee (NAC), in its 104th meeting, reviewed the change of base of National Accounts from 2005-06 to 2015-16. With this revision, the final estimates of GDP growth of FY21 came out to be 5.57% (provisional: 5.37%). This number—especially the quantum of rate of growth during trying times—is striking, part of an impressive growth performance that gov’t projects to continue in the medium term. A few key areas mentioned in the NAC’s press release are as follows:
 The committee reviewed and approved the rebased series from 2015-16 to 2020-21 on the prices of 2015-16.
 Revised GDP growth rates at Constant Prices on new base of 2015-16 stand at 5.57% (old base: 5.37%)
 Revised sectoral growth rates are:
 Agriculture: 3.48% (provisional est.: 2.77%)  Industrial: 7.79% (provisional est.: 3.57%)  Services: 5.70% (provisional est.: 4.43%)
 The GDP at market prices increased to PKR 55.5trn in FY21 while Gross National Income increased to PKR 59.3trn with the rebasing of numbers.
 During FY21, the Per Capita Income increased to PKR 266,614 and in USD 1,666.
 In dollar terms, the size of the economy reached to USD 346.76bn.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan PM #ImranKhan faces a no-confidence Vote. At stake in Sunday’s vote is thus the #geopolitical direction of one of world’s nine #nuclear powers, at a time when war in #Ukraine has sent global tensions soaring and brought alliances under scrutiny. https://ti.me/3K1w4yr

Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, is on the verge of being ousted in a vote of no confidence after more than three years in power.

Accusing the 69-year-old former cricket star of economic mismanagement and rights abuses, the opposition has spent weeks persuading Khan’s coalition partners to defect and has seemingly done enough ahead of the vote on Apr. 3. In a raucous session of the National Assembly on Thursday, lawmakers appeared to have formed a bloc of 172—sufficient to topple the government—and confidently took group photographs of what they regarded as a watershed moment.

While the problem of corruption in Pakistani society is well documented, much of the political hostility toward Khan stems from his use of the issue to quash rivals, detaining them on trumped up charges. Marriyum Aurangzeb, information secretary for the opposition Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN), accuses Khan of using a “false corruption narrative” to consolidate his grip on power.

When Khan took office, “Everybody in our party was thrown in jail, every day we used to wait for the news of who was next,” Aurangzeb says. “He went after the media, he went after business people, he went after the opposition, every party, and he thought that by putting everyone in jail he would be successful.”

Dr. Nida Kirmani, associate professor of sociology at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, confirms that while Khan’s anti-graft posturing taps into “legitimate public frustration,” its scope is limited because it is used to attack political opponents. “This narrative has been a trope of populist leaders to gain support, but their analysis and diagnosis is superficial,” she tells TIME.

Read More: What Pakistan Gains from the Taliban Takeover of Afghanistan

The reverberations of Khan’s likely removal will be felt much further afield than Islamabad, however. A strident critic of the West, the prime minister has made anti-Americanism a part of his political persona, infamously accusing the U.S., in 2020, of “martyring” Osama bin Laden. After the fall of Kabul in August last year, he endorsed the Taliban takeover and remarked that the people of Afghanistan, in defeating the U.S., had “broken the shackles of slavery.”

More recently, Khan arrived in Moscow for an official visit on the day that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, drawing attention to the Kremlin’s evolving relationship with Islamabad, which has adopted a neutral position in the conflict.

Pakistan’s opposition, on the other hand, has deep misgivings about Khan’s collision course with Washington and can be expected to reset the relationship if Khan is ousted. “The need of the hour is to repair our relations with America diplomatically,” says Sartaj Aziz, who was adviser to the prime minister on foreign affairs from 2013 to 2017.

At stake in Sunday’s vote is thus the geopolitical direction of one of the world’s nine nuclear powers, at a time when war in Ukraine has sent global tensions soaring and brought alliances under scrutiny. Ahsan Iqbal, who served as interior minister before Khan took office, says the incumbent has badly miscalculated over the conflict in Europe.

“He should have at least said that we do not support this invasion, we want international forums to play their role, and Russia should show restraint and negotiate a settlement,” Iqbal tells TIME. “But what this government chose [was] not to take any position and I think that was a big blunder.”

Riaz Haq said...

In Q&A, #US Assistant Secretary of State for #SouthAsia Donald Lu neither confirmed nor denied having a threatening conversation with #Pakistan's Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan. When pressed, Lu said: "That’s all I have for you on that question". #ImranKhan https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/22-will-show-india-us-ties-healthy-moving-forward-top-us-official-101648919110515.html

Q: Let me move to the rest of the region and start with Pakistan. Imran Khan seems to suggest that you had a conversation with the Pakistani ambassador in the US and told him that if Imran Khan survives the no-confidence motion, Pakistan is in trouble and the US won’t forgive Pakistan. Any response?

A: We are following developments in Pakistan and we respect and support Pakistan’s constitutional process and the rule of law.

Q: Did you have such a conversation?

A: That’s all I have for you on that question.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s exports in March surged to $2.773 billion at a growth rate of 17.3 percent compared to $2.365 billion observed in the corresponding period last year.

https://propakistani.pk/2022/04/01/pakistans-exports-register-17-3-growth-in-march/


Conversely, provisional data from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) indicates that on a month-on-month basis, exports have dipped by 2 percent to $2.77 billion in March 2022, compared to $2.82 billion in the previous month.

The Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood tweeted that exports during July-March fiscal year 2021-2022 soared by 25 percent to $23.332 billion as compared to $18.688 billion in the corresponding period last year, indicating an increase of $4.644 billion.

Dawood congratulated the exporters for maintaining the momentum of exports, adding that “our exports are in line with our targets & we expect to achieve our yearly target”.

As per SBP figures, Pakistan’s current account deficit was $545 million in February, which was less than the $2.5 billion record loss in January but over 16 times larger than the same month last year.

The trade deficit widened by 82.2 percent during the first eight months (July-February) of the current fiscal year 2021-22 and reached $31.959 billion compared to $17.535 billion during the same period of 2020-21.

Riaz Haq said...


Meher Bokhari
@meherbokhari
Unemployed population rate across South Asia for the 2020-2022 timeline:

🇮🇳: 8.0%
🇲🇻: 6.3%
🇧🇩: 5.4%
🇧🇹: 5.0%
🇱🇰: 5.9%
🇳🇵: 4.7%
🇵🇰: 4.3%

Source: WorldBank
Data: 2020-2022

https://twitter.com/meherbokhari/status/1510358148325859328?s=20&t=rwnuN30FnLuWMdMjxsJZOQ

https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.UEM.TOTL.ZS?locations=IN-PK

Vinay said...

Bajwa + Imran combination was actually good for India and Pakistan relationship. In general, a strong Pakistani government and a better-performing Pakistani economy is generally good for India. Now that Imran Khan is on his way out, we never know what kind of rag tag coalition will take control of Pakistan and all the destabilization that will follow.

It's still a puzzle to me how Imran Khan suddenly lost favour from Pakistani army and also the US. May be Russian visit explains American stand, but what's up with army' stand? It's not that Sharif's or Bhutto's are any close to the army. Would be good to read an article about what really happened here?

Riaz Haq said...

Donald Lu, the US Asst Sec of State for South Asia, has been in the news lately for threatening "regime change" in Pakistan. He appears to buy Modi's narrative about Kashmir being about "cross-border terrorism".


Cross-border terrorism down, Kashmir moving normalcy, Modi has a lot of support and authority in India: US official Donald Lu at Senate hearing | South Asia Monitor


https://www.southasiamonitor.org/south-asia-abroad/cross-border-terrorism-down-kashmir-moving-normalcy-modi-has-lot-support-and


Democratic Party Senator Chris Murphy, who chaired the hearing, wondered if Modi's electoral performance was due to “organic popularity of the ruling party or because of tactics that would not be the norm in the US". Murphy heads the Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism that held the hearing on US relations with India.

Lu also said that cross-border terrorism originating from Pakistan has gone down over the past two years. He said that in meetings with Pakistani Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa Pakistan took “credit for closing off that border for militant groups”.

They have “sealed the border in a way we haven't seen before” and that was partly because of the actions by Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which can impose punitive financial sanctions for supporting terrorism.

Asked by Murphy about Kashmir, Lu said, “We do see the Indian government taking some steps to restore normalcy. Prime Minister had outreach to a range of Kashmiri Indian politicians in June. We've seen visits by cabinet ministers to Kashmir”.

“We saw the rest restoration of 4G connections for cell phones which is the way most people would get their information. In the Kashmir valley,” he added.

At the same time, he said that assembly elections have not been held there and some prominent journalists in the Kashmir Valley have been detained.

Riaz Haq said...

India's jobless rate falls to 7.6% in March from 8.1% a month earlier: CMIE
Unemployment rate in the country is decreasing with the economy slowly returning to normal, according to CMIE data.

https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/india-s-unemployment-rate-falls-to-7-6-in-march-from-8-10-in-feb-cmie-122040300533_1.html


Haryana's unemployment rate the highest in India, shows analysis
India's unemployment rate falls to 6.57%, lowest since March 2021: CMIE
Households have not recovered
Employment and the government
Unemployment falls in UP, on the rise in Punjab and Goa, shows data


Unemployment rate in the country is decreasing with the economy slowly returning to normal, according to CMIE data.

The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy's monthly time series data revealed that the overall unemployment rate in India was 8.10 per cent in February 2022, which fell to 7.6 per cent in March.


On April 2, the ratio further dropped to 7.5 per cent, with urban unemployment rate at 8.5 per cent and rural at 7.1 per cent.

Retired professor of economics at Indian Statistical Institute Abhirup Sarkar said that though the overall unemployment rate is falling, it is still high for a "poor" country like India.

The decrease in the ratio shows that the economy is getting back on track after being hit by COVID-19 for two years, he said.

"But still, this unemployment rate is high for India which is a poor country. Poor people, particularly in rural areas, cannot afford to remain unemployed, for which they are taking up any job which comes in their way," Sarkar said.

According to the data, Haryana recorded the highest unemployment rate in March at 26.7 per cent, followed by Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir at 25 per cent each, Bihar at 14.4 per cent, Tripura at 14.1 per cent and West Bengal at 5.6 per cent.

In April 2021, the overall unemployment rate was 7.97 per cent and shot up to 11.84 per cent in May last year.

Karnataka and Gujarat registered the least unemployment rate at 1.8.per cent each in March, 2022.

Riaz Haq said...

Growing ties between #Pakistan and #China raise concern in #Washington and #NewDelhi. Just how close Sino-Pakistani ties have become can be seen in a 33-point document issued by the two countries in early February during #ImranKhan's visit to #Beijing https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/04/04/asia-pacific/politics-diplomacy-asia-pacific/china-pakistan-military-ties/

China’s engagement in South Asia has increased significantly in recent years, going beyond economic and development projects to encompass geostrategic and security interests.

And perhaps in no other country in the region has Beijing expanded its footprint more than in Pakistan, raising concerns in Washington and New Delhi about the geostrategic implications of this deepening partnership.

The latest example of this was the Pakistan Day Parade in Islamabad in late March, which saw the country’s military display several recently acquired, Chinese-made platforms such as J-10CE multirole fighter aircraft, battle tanks, self-propelled howitzers and air-defense equipment.

China’s supply of advanced military equipment to Pakistan — also including warships and submarines — is part of an intensifying military and intelligence cooperation that reflects the growing level of trust between the two sides.

The burgeoning military ties, which also include joint defense-industrial projects such as the JF-17 fighter aircraft, can largely be seen as an attempt by both sides to counter capability advancements by their common regional rival India, particularly as they both remain in territorial disputes with New Delhi.

“For Beijing, Pakistan serves as a buffer against India. And for Islamabad, China is a key source of arms and other support to strengthen Pakistani capacities to counter India,” says Michael Kugelman, the deputy director at the Asia program of the Washington-based Wilson Center.

Geopolitical developments in recent years have made this dynamic even stronger, as New Delhi has gradually drawn closer to Washington and its allies under “the Quad” grouping of countries, which also includes Japan and Australia. Kugelman argues that China lacks the capacity to contain the defense-industrial development of a regional giant such as India, which is why Beijing’s strategy is instead focused on countering India — as seen in the Himalayan border standoff in recent years — and outperforming it economically.


The growing Sino-Pakistani cooperation has set off alarm bells in New Delhi, especially as Chinese arms and money continue to flow into Pakistan. Moreover, the Indian military, which is preparing for a potential two-front war with China and Pakistan, is also concerned about the possibility of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) establishing a more robust logistics and basing infrastructure in the region.

Beijing is pursuing additional military facilities in foreign countries — beyond its base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa — to support naval, air, ground, cyber, and space power projection, according to the Pentagon’s 2021 China Military Power report. And one of the locations likely considered by China is Pakistan, along with Cambodia, Myanmar and other nations.

Riaz Haq said...

https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/53170/did-the-us-assistant-secretary-of-state-donald-lu-threaten-pakistan

According to Pakistani PM Imran Khan, on 7th March 2022, Pakistani diplomats were summoned to the foreign office of "a Western country" and were told that

they were not satisfied with Pakistan's Russia policy.
PM Imran Khan visited Russia on his own accord which is not acceptable to them.
a no-confidence move is coming against the PM.
if the PM IK survives the no-confidence move, Pakistan will face a grim future.
if the PM IK is gone, all of Pakistan's wrong moves would be forgiven.
He also said that these threats are present in the black and white form of an official communique.

On 31st March 2022, the official "threat" document was presented in front of the national security council of Pakistan and decided to issue a demarche against the US role. On the same day, the Pakistani PM received a report from the Pakistani intelligence agency that dozens of Pakistani members of parliaments, journalists, and media house owners had been meeting various US officials from the US embassy in Pakistan from October 2021. On 2nd April 2022, a senior US diplomat in Pakistan was summoned by the Foreign Office of Pakistan and registered a protest. On 3rd March 2022, PM IK revealed that it was Donald Lu who threatened Pakistani officials on the record.

The USA publicly denied any role in the ouster of PM Imran Khan. However, Donald Lu was questioned by a journalist from the Hindustan Times if Imran Khan's allegations of conveying threatening messages to the Pak ambassador about a no-confidence motion to avoid serious consequences for Pakistan, Donald Lu passed on without a denial. This is a video clip posted on Twitter, where Donald Lu was seen grilled by senator Van Hollen, and it showed that, indeed, he had been in contact with Pakistani officials regarding not voting against Russia.

By the way, the USA has a proven track record of orchestrating the de-seating of various heads of states/governments e.g. Mohammad Mosaddegh of Iran, Salvador Ajende of Chile, and so on. The USA also has a proven history of interfering with Pakistan's foreign policies and domestic politics.

My question is, Did the US Assistant secretary of state Donald Lu threaten Pakistan?

1
The events are probably too recent for anyone to reach an answer strong enough proofs for S.SE. One possible subquestion is whether any version of the alledged "official communique" including the supposed "threats" has been divulgated. –
Evargalo
2 days ago
2
Pakistan (or rather PM Khan) says they have evidence but doesn't want to show it publicly. The US claims that never happened. I'm not sure how you expect users here to solve this conundrum. I'm pretty sure this site is not run by the CIA as you implied elsewhere, so it's highly doubtful anyone here will answer with classified information. And even if they do do that, how would be able to tell it apart from disinformation? –
Fizz
2 days ago
@Evargalo, whether any version of the alleged "official communique" including the supposed "threats" has been divulgated. --- The problem, in this case, is, any diplomatic dossier is protected by Pakistan's national secrecy act. Divulging such documents will automatically push the PM to a lifelong ban in Pakistani politics. –
user366312
2 days ago
1
The top-voted answer on the Q about Arafat says that we don't know. But at least the answers there have some material (medical reports) that could be discussed in factual terms. Insofar I'm failing to see how that can be done for your Q. It seems to be just based on claims and rebuttals whether something was written. –
Fizz
2 days ago

Riaz Haq said...

Snap National Poll – National ASSEMBLY DISSOLUTION and Views of Pakistani Public

https://gallup.com.pk/post/33081

Key findings:

1) Widespread support for dissolution of National Assembly in Pakistan

Respondents were asked ‘ PM has dissolved the national assembly and called for fresh elections. Do you Support or are you against this’ To this question a wide majority 68% say they support and 32% say they oppose PM Imran Khan’s move.

2) Majority don’t believe in US Conspiracy to remove Imran Khan, although split exists along party lines.Significant majority 64% responded to this question and say that Imran Khan was being ousted because of inflation and not because of a foreign conspiracy.

3) Public Opinion split over performance of Imran Khan

Respondents were asked ‘ Imran Khan ruled for 3.5 years. Are you satisfied with the performance of their government or not satisfied?
To this question ‘ 54% said they are dissatisfied and 46% said they are satisfied’

4) Anti Americanism: Only 1 in 3 consider US to be a friend

Respondents were asked Some people think that America is a friend of Pakistan, and some people think it is an enemy. what is your opinion?
Almost 2 in 3 Pakistanis(72%) think US to be an enemy. Anti Americanism was highest among PTI Supporters (80% thought America was an enemy) and lowest among PML-N voters (65%)

Riaz Haq said...

Riaz Haq
@haqsmusings

Gallup #Pakistan Poll: 68% of respondents support #imrankhanPTI's decision to dissolve the National Assembly & call early elections. https://gallup.com.pk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Snap-National-Poll-National-ASSEMBLY-DISSOLUTION-and-Views-of-Pakistani-Public-.pdf

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1511759488147107846?s=20&t=U-KT2_pJ6gT2zW3gaLGKyQ


Riaz Haq said...

Pansota
@Pansota1
Old video of
@JoeBiden

@POTUS
from December 2020 which speaks volumes about his mindset. It reinforces the case of conspiracy against the
@ImranKhanPTI
. This can be exhibited as supporting evidence in the Supreme Court if the court wants to dilate upon the issue of conspiracy.

https://twitter.com/Pansota1/status/1510862324667715587?s=20&t=ijMbdKyBt5tP9iClNVZRdw

Riaz Haq said...

Riaz Haq
@haqsmusings


Gallup #Pakistan Poll: #PTI enjoys overwhelming support (95%) across the country. Only 5% oppose it. #ImranKhan https://gallup.com.pk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Snap-National-Poll-National-ASSEMBLY-DISSOLUTION-and-Views-of-Pakistani-Public-.pdf

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1511803735336361985?s=20&t=U-KT2_pJ6gT2zW3gaLGKyQ

Riaz Haq said...

World Bank warns of debt crisis for developing nations
Developing economies were hit hardest by the global economic recession brought by the pandemic. A looming debt crisis could make things much worse, according to a new report.

https://www.dw.com/en/world-bank-warns-of-debt-crisis-for-developing-nations/a-60774252#:~:text=More%20than%2070%20low%2Dincome,problem%20faced%20by%20developing%20economies.

Some of the world's poorest nations face a serious debt crisis which will greatly complicate efforts to recover from the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 70 low-income nations are facing extra debt repayments of almost $11 billion (€9.7 billion) this year, an increase of 45% from 2020 after a sharp rise in borrowing last year.

However, a new report from the World Bank says that is only one strand of the debt problem faced by developing economies. It says that the issue of "hidden" or nontransparent debt — for example, slow or faulty detection of financial risks such as nonperforming loans — is hitting access to financing for low-income households and small businesses.

An equitable recovery?
In its annual World Development Report, the World Bank typically focuses on one specific aspect of global economic development in middle- and low-income countries.

Its 2022 report, titled "Finance For An Equitable Recovery," focuses on the issue of debt. It argues that, in addition to the challenge of mounting sovereign debt, unstable financing systems in developing economies make them more vulnerable to other issues, such as rising inflation and interest rates.

"The economic crisis of inflation and higher interest rates will spread due to financial fragility," says World Bank President David Malpass in the report. "Tighter global financial conditions and shallow domestic debt markets in many developing countries are crowding out private investment and dampening the recovery."

Of particular concern to the World Bank, which specializes in providing loans and grants to low-income countries, is the issue of hidden debt risks.

The pandemic exposed challenges such as lack of transparency in reporting nonperforming loans and delayed management of distressed assets, the report says.

It highlights the fact that, despite the major fall in incomes and business revenues caused by the pandemic, the overall share of nonperforming loans did not increase in many countries. "This may be due to forbearance policies and relaxed accounting standards that are masking significant hidden risks that will become apparent only as support policies are withdrawn," the report warns.

Riaz Haq said...

World Bank Report: "FINANCE FOR AN EQUITABLE RECOVERY"

https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/36883/9781464817304.pdf

The (Pakistan) government’s Kamyab Pakistan Programme, rolled
out in September 2021 to provide subsidized
or interest-free loans to SMEs and agricultural
workers, could also have mixed impacts on the
stability and future growth potential of the
microfinance sector by distorting the price of
credit and increasing the moral hazard of strategic future default

------------

As the economic crisis arising from the COVID-19
pandemic unfolded in Pakistan, MFI operations
became severely restricted, and some MFIs were
forced to close temporarily. Many MFIs acted
quickly, however, to initiate business continuity
plans to ensure the health and safety of staff
and clients and work around lockdowns. Digital financial services and branchless banking
surged. In the first year of the pandemic, the
number of active branchless banking accounts
increased by 53.7 percent, from 27.7 million to
42.6 million.a
Meanwhile, from March 2020 to
March 2021 regulators enacted a debt moratorium to ease the financial crunch on borrowers
caused by lockdowns and the decline in economic activity. In addition, nonbank microfinance companies (NBMFCs) were shielded
by federal guidelines asking commercial banks
and other lenders to MFIs, such as the Pakistan


Microfinance Investment Company, to reschedule wholesale lending to the sector. Anecdotal
reports also suggest that handshake agreements
with other MFI lenders to extend repayment
terms, as well as the continued availability of
wholesale funding for creditworthy MFIs, helped
buoy the sector.
Overall, these measures appear to have
averted a liquidity crisis among Pakistan’s MFIs
in the short term, particularly those regulated,
deposit-taking, and digitally enabled.b
Indeed, during 2020 loans totaling approximately $635 million in the sector were deferred or rescheduled.
Some MFIs even experienced an increase in
business. Microfinance banks (MFBs) saw a net
increase in deposits in 2020 of 29 percent, and
gross loan portfolios increased from $1.97 billion
to $2.02 billion during 2020.c
However, results
were mixed across the sector. The largest MFBs

saw growth continue, while the smaller players,
including the vast majority of NBMFCs, saw
declines in their portfolios and asset quality. By
the end of 2020, many Pakistani MFIs had temporarily suspended their lending operations, and
the demand for credit declined slightly as people suffered income losses.d

Riaz Haq said...


SBP
@StateBank_Pak
1/2 Latest SBP figures show strong growth in low-cost housing loans to individuals #MeraPakistanMeraGhar. Till 11Apr22, banks received applications of Rs409bn, of which Rs180bn has been approved & Rs66bn disbursed. A year ago total applications stood at Rs57bn &approvals at 16bn.

https://twitter.com/StateBank_Pak/status/1514581716907794436?s=20&t=01gmWPhrNH13MS11COWOqA

2/2 Banks have almost doubled finance for builders and developers to Rs404bn as of 31Mar22 from Rs204bn a year earlier, supporting the construction sector and growth in the economy. See PR:

https://www.sbp.org.pk/press/2022/Pr1-14-Apr-2022.pdf

Riaz Haq said...


SBP
@StateBank_Pak
Workers’ remittances rose to their highest level in history at $2.8 billion in March 22. Cumulatively, remittances have risen to $23 billion during the first 9 months of FY22, up 7.1% over the same period last year.

https://twitter.com/StateBank_Pak/status/1514450543011409923?s=20&t=01gmWPhrNH13MS11COWOqA

https://www.sbp.org.pk/ecodata/Homeremit.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

The bank borrowing of the private sector has surged by 170 percent to Rs. 1,198 billion from Rs. 443 billion during the first nine months (July-March) of the current fiscal year 2021-22.

https://propakistani.pk/2022/04/14/private-sector-borrowing-surges-170-percent-in-9mfy22/


According to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the private sector has obtained loans worth Rs. 1,198 billion from the banking sector during the first nine months of the current fiscal year, which shows a positive trend in the private sector. The total debt stock of the private sector from local banks amounted to Rs. 8,827.38 billion up to 31 March 2022.


Some economic experts believe that this increase was possible after reducing government borrowing from the private banking sector for bridging the budget deficit.

They believed that government heavily depends on external loans for bridging the fiscal deficit under the new policy. According to the Finance Ministry, the government has borrowed Rs. 1,025.6 billion external loans and Rs. 346 billion from domestic loans, including banking and non-banking side for bridging the budget deficit during the first half of the country’s fiscal year.

The government had obtained Rs. 454.4 billion external loans and Rs. 684 billion domestic loans, including banking and non-banking loans for bridging the budget deficit to Rs. 1,137 billion during the first half (July-Dec) of the last fiscal year 2020-21.

The data shows that the government has provided a cushion for the private sector for meeting the requirement of liquidity to run the business.


The SBP says that the bank borrowing of the private sector from conventional banking branches swelled by 261 percent to Rs. 791.56 billion from Rs. 219 billion during the first nine months of the current fiscal year compared to the same period of the last fiscal year. The debt stock of the private sector from the Conventional Banking Sector has reached Rs. 6,476.67 billion by March 2022.

The private sector has also borrowed Rs. 160.4 billion from Islamic Banks of the country during the first nine months of the current fiscal year. It had obtained loans worth Rs. 91 billion from the Islamic banks during the first nine months of the last fiscal year. The total loans of the private sector from different Islamic banks in the country amount to Rs. 1090.7 billion so far.


The loans from Islamic Banking Branches of Conventional Banks have also surged by 84.6 percent from Rs. 133.4 billion to Rs. 246.3 billion during the first nine months of the current fiscal year as compared to the same period of the last fiscal year.

According to the SBP report, the Credit to Public Sectors Enterprises (PSEs) has been also increased by Rs. 4 billion during the first nine months of the current fiscal year. The Public Sector Enterprises had retired Rs. 24.9 billion to the banking sector during the first nine months of the last fiscal year.

The credit to Non-Banking Financial Institutions (NBFIs) was also increased by Rs. 5.7 billion during the first nine months of the current fiscal year. The total debt stock from NBFIs has swelled to Rs. 78.5 billion so far.

Riaz Haq said...

Stephen Stapczynski
@SStapczynski
Pakistan bought a whole bunch of LNG at a record low price in July 2020

But no one predicted prices would rise so sharply and so quickly in 18 months. The entire industry was caught flat footed by the global gas supply crunch

https://twitter.com/SStapczynski/status/1515592399124279305?s=20&t=JaYgQZhKF0S0wgoweRfKwg

-------------

Stephen Stapczynski
@SStapczynski
Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif blamed the previous government for the fuel crunch. He said they should have bought more LNG when prices were $3/mmbtu

(That’s not how it works. Prices were that low ~2 years ago. No one buys spot that far in advance)

https://twitter.com/SStapczynski/status/1515590037668126721?s=20&t=JaYgQZhKF0S0wgoweRfKwg

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s Political Crisis Has Been an Energy Crisis, Too
Successive governments have failed to back renewables, cutting the country off from the cheapest source of indigenous energy. The new prime minister could change all that.


https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2022-04-17/pakistan-s-political-crisis-is-an-energy-crisis-too-wind-solar-would-help


The political crisis that pitched Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan from office wasn’t just about the failure of his anti-corruption agenda and mismanagement of an economy where inflation running at nearly 13% has driven months of opposition protests. It’s also, as with so many of Pakistan’s political crises, about energy and exchange rates.

For decades, heavy dependence on imported energy has constrained growth. To break out of its chronic pattern of stagnation, Pakistan needs more power for its industrial, household and transport sectors. Whenever that has happened in the past, however, a rising bill for imported fossil fuels has prompted one of its periodic balance-of-payments crises. The International Monetary Fund bailout that’s widely expected within months would be Pakistan’s 19th since the early 1970s.

Riaz Haq said...

Kalsoom Lakhani
@kalsoom82
Our
@i2i_ventures
portfolio company
@abhikaropk
just announced their $17M Series A, led by
@speedinvest
, their first deal in Pakistan. So proud to back an amazing team, bringing financial wellness to the region! 🇵🇰🚀

https://twitter.com/kalsoom82/status/1516251848558223364?s=20&t=2oNXNR4rSzlAzbgA7PEDhA

----------

Pakistani financial platform Abhi Pvt. raised funds at a $90 million valuation within a year after introducing its business, the latest startup to benefit from investors’ increasing interest in the South Asian country.

The Karachi-based company’s $17 million Series A round was led by Speedinvest, marking the venture capital firm’s first bet in Pakistan, Abhi Chief Executive Officer Omair Ansari said in an interview. Global Ventures, VentureSouq, VEF, Sturgeon Capital, Rallycap, FJ Labs, Fatima Gobi, Sarmayacar and i2i Ventures also participated.

Pakistan is attracting investors eager to back startups in one of the last large untapped markets. Companies raised more than $350 million last year in the country, greater than the amount over the previous six years combined. Among the firms making their first-time investments in the country recently are Kleiner Perkins, Tiger Global Management and Dragoneer Investment Group.



Startup Fever Grips Pakistan, World’s Last Big Untapped Nation

The lending startup offers an alternative to people asking their employer, family or friends for cash to make ends meet until their next salary. It also gives small- and medium-sized companies financing for working capital requirements. The company has now become cash-flow positive.

“This is the first time you’re able to get this access in the country,” Ansari said in an interview. “As people and smaller companies get this access then it becomes something they want to keep using.”

The app takes less than 30 seconds and two clicks for a registered user to access the funds, with a flat 2% transaction fee. The funds are automatically deducted from the next paycheck.

Co-founder Ansari previously oversaw two funds at Morgan Stanley, and was looking at investment opportunities in consumer companies and fintech in emerging and frontier markets. He helped with early-stage investments in fintech companies from China to Brazil. He was also an adviser to VEF, which focuses on fintech in frontier and emerging markets.



The company has increased users to 650,000 from about 200,000 since a previous round in Novemberand also on-boarded over 150 companies. Individuals are accessing 15% to 20% of their monthly wage through the platform, Ansari said.

“Abhi has the potential to change millions of lives across MENA and South Asia,” said Stefan Klestil, general partner at Speedinvest. “It’s no wonder they have been able to establish themselves as one of the fastest-growing Pakistani startups.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-04-19/pakistan-startup-abhi-raises-funds-at-90-million-valuation

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s Response to COVID-19: Overcoming National and International Hypes to Fight the Pandemic - PMC

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8136406/


Go to:
Government’s Initiatives to Tackle the Pandemic
The government of Pakistan has been lauded by international organizations including the WHO (and rightly so) for taking the necessary precautions and measures against the COVID-19 pandemic to guarantee not only the containment of disease spread but also to fulfill its responsibility as a state toward its people and their safety [14].

Immediate Response to Contain Disease Spread
One of the first steps taken by the government was to develop functional emergency operations centers and to detect the route of disease spread in Pakistan. The origin of the virus was the first question; hence, detailed history-taking of patients was crucial not only in understanding the outbreak but also in determining the contacts of patients with other people in the community [15]. This helped in cordoning off areas or home-bounding people who came in close contact with a patient with COVID-19. In addition to this, patients with a recent international travel history were monitored closely. This made sense because many cases and massive spread was reported in the countries neighboring Pakistan [15-17].

Containment Measures
Once primary and secondary contact-tracing was delineated, the foremost step taken by the government was to control the borders [18]. This was a crucial decision, owing to the consideration of a large number of Pakistani students and pilgrims studying in and travelling from China, Iran, and Europe. The government gained the confidence of the affected individuals and their families. It was almost unfeasible to restrict such individuals outside the country because of the strong public response; nonetheless, it was necessary if the spread of the virus was to be controlled quickly. To tackle this problem, the government took the initiative of designating quarantine houses near borders and airports to isolate people entering Pakistan for a short period to make sure they were not infected before they moved out in the community [19,20].

Border Control
The WHO reported that the number of new cases increased by the minute, and disease spread was now not only limited to people who had a recent travel history in the regions highly affected by the pandemic. Disease spread within the community was alarming and called for drastic steps to be taken not only by local governments but also by countries and states at large. All necessary services and measures are still being used in maximum capacity till date to ensure the safety of people’s lives in the country. Since all cases initially had a history of recent travel, it was speculated that transmissions were imported from outside of the country. Therefore, travel restrictions were imposed to limit the spread of virus from other countries to Pakistan [21].

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s Response to COVID-19: Overcoming National and International Hypes to Fight the Pandemic - PMC

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8136406/



-----

Testing and Contact Tracing
The country’s testing capacity was limited during the early months of the pandemic, and while high-income countries were conducting large-scale randomized tests to estimate the actual number of confirmed cases, Pakistan was forced to carry out priority-based testing and rely on the enforcement of strict quarantine and isolation strategies to contain the pandemic [31]. Contact-tracing, however, was an effective strategy that not only helped limit the spread of the virus but also helped predict its route through different regions of the country and across different age groups. Nevertheless, since large-scale testing was crucial to assess the severity of the pandemic, the testing capacity of laboratories and the availability of testing kits was gradually increased by the government, and in June 2020 up to 30,000 tests were conducted daily to ascertain the pace of spread and to formulate future strategies accordingly [32]. Both these strategies provided valuable insights on the differences in the clinical manifestation of COVID-19 in people with different demographic and health backgrounds.

Field Epidemiology Laboratory Training Program
The Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network is a network of 75 field epidemiology training programs, which operate in >100 countries including Pakistan. After the WHO declared COVID-19 a public health emergency of international concern, alumni from the Field Epidemiology Training Program implemented standard operating procedures (SOPs) for COVID-19 screening at international airports in Pakistan. They also designed and implemented a real-time data entry system to screen travelers from high-risk countries [33].

Implementation of SOPs: Masks, Sanitization, and Social Distancing
SOPs were devised for the public and were meant to be strictly followed in public areas. These included guidelines on social distancing; that is, avoiding crowded areas, maintaining a physical distance of 3 feet, wearing masks, maintaining hand hygiene, sanitizing frequently touched surfaces and areas, and following general hygiene rules such as avoiding touching the face, nose, or eyes, and coughing, or sneezing in the elbow or a paper napkin instead of the hands. The authorities started taking disciplinary action against those who violated the SOPs at public places in various parts of the country in accordance with the recommendations of the National Command and Control Centre of Pakistan. The focus of the National Command and Control Centre was on SOPs, compliance, strict administrative actions being implemented, and enforcement of various strands of the track, trace, and quarantine strategy [34].

Initiation of Awareness Campaigns: Role of Community Health workers
Many campaigns were initiated by both local and federal governments in the interest of the general population to spread awareness about the risks, signs, and symptoms of COVID-19 [35]. Pakistan’s extensive polio vaccination program, consisting of more than 265,000 community health workers and vaccinators, was mobilized with the help of the WHO [36]. This not only helped provide infrastructure to track and trace cases early during the epidemic but also helped spread awareness in the remote, underdeveloped rural regions of Pakistan. Another vital step was taken to spread awareness to the masses, where text messages were sent by the government of Pakistan on all mobile networks [37]. The daily reminders on following SOPs helped tackle those who did not take the necessary precautions and were unaware of the aforementioned information, and the imposition of fines and charges for noncompliance made risk and awareness campaigns a nationwide success [35,37].
---

Riaz Haq said...

Muzzammil Aslam
@MuzzammilAslam3
Finally, IMF has admitted that Pakistan posted 5.6% GDP in 2021, lowest CAD in last 11 years 0.6% of GDP & inflation at 8.9%. The IMF admission clearly indicates its flawed methodology of predicting economic variables. Also reminder to all news paper, IMF endorsed 5.6%.

https://twitter.com/MuzzammilAslam3/status/1516535103027281921?s=20&t=TlrTGXh6jWRz4vxonckPmA


https://www.imf.org/en/Countries/PAK

Riaz Haq said...

According to the World Bank’s Pakistan Development Update, released today, while economic activity maintained its momentum during July-December 2021, high demand pressures and rising global commodity prices led to double-digit inflation and a sharp rise in the import bill during this period. These developments have had an adverse impact on the rupee. Moreover, long-standing structural weaknesses of the economy including low investment, low exports, and low productivity growth pose risks to a sustained recovery.

https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2022/04/19/long-standing-structural-challenges-pose-risks-to-pakistan-s-sustained-growth-world-bank-bi-annual-pakistan-development-#:~:text=The%20Pakistan%20Development%20Update%20is,policy%20challenges%20faced%20by%20countries.


The report highlights that with economic recovery and improved labor market conditions, poverty—measured at the lower middle-income class poverty line of $3.20 Purchasing Power Parity 2011 per day—declined from 37 percent in FY20 to 34 percent in FY21. However, rising food and energy prices are expected to decrease the real purchasing power of households, disproportionally affecting poor and vulnerable households that spend a larger share of their budget on these items.

“Pakistan’s economic recovery after the COVID-19 crisis indicates that the country has enormous potential to overcome challenging economic situations,” said Najy Benhassine, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “However, sustaining the economic recovery requires addressing long-standing structural weaknesses of the economy and boosting private sector investment, exports and productivity.”

On the back of high base affects and recent monetary tightening, real GDP growth is expected to moderate to 4.3 and 4.0 percent in FY22 and FY23, respectively. Thereafter, economic growth is projected to slightly recover to 4.2 percent in FY24, provided that structural reforms to support fiscal sustainability and macroeconomic stability are implemented rapidly, and that global inflationary pressures dissipate.

However, the macroeconomic risks remain very high. These include tighter global financing conditions, potential further increases in world energy prices, and the possible risk of a return of stringent COVID-19-related mobility restrictions. Domestically, political uncertainty and policy reform slippages can also lead to protracted macroeconomic imbalances.

“To mitigate immediate macroeconomic risks, the Government should focus on containing the fiscal deficit at a level which ensures debt sustainability, closely coordinate fiscal and monetary policy, and retain exchange rate flexibility,” said Zehra Aslam, the lead author of the report.

The special section of the report focuses on financial intermediation and how to increase financing to the real economy by addressing structural impediments impacting the demand and supply of finance, including in credit markets. These impediments include extensive government borrowing from the financial sector that crowds out supply of credit to the private sector and deepens the sovereign-bank nexus. Intermediation is further limited by low domestic savings, and underdeveloped capital markets. Overall financial inclusion remains low, but good progress has been made to enhance it through ongoing digital innovations. Resolving these constraints in the medium to long term requires concerted efforts by the government, regulators, and other stakeholders.

https://thedocs.worldbank.org/en/doc/410d0506bba8afc6fd9d9541148bfe4d-0310062022/original/PDU-April-2022-April18-ForWEB-Final.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

P A K I S T A N
DEVELOPMENT UPDATE
April 2022

https://thedocs.worldbank.org/en/doc/410d0506bba8afc6fd9d9541148bfe4d-0310062022/original/PDU-April-2022-April18-ForWEB-Final.pdf


Supported by higher growth and the recovery in the manufacturing and services sectors,
the poverty headcount, measured at the lower-middle-income class line of US$3.20 PPP
2011 per day, is estimated to have declined from 37.0 percent in FY20 to 34.0 percent in
FY21.

Rising inflation has disproportionally affected poor and vulnerable households that spend
a relatively larger share of their budget on food and energy. More specifically, the poor
spend around 50 percent of their total consumption on food items, whereas this share is
only 43 percent among the non-poor. In response, the Government inaugurated a
targeted commodity subsidy program, Ehsaas Rashan Riayat, in February 2022 to
compensate eligible households for higher prices.22

The Government undertook timely policy measures to mitigate the adverse
socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP)
lowered the policy rate and announced supportive measures for the financial sector to
help businesses and the Government expanded the national cash transfer program on an
emergency basis.2 These measures contributed to economic growth rebounding to 5.6
percent in FY21.3 However, long-standing structural weaknesses of the economy,
particularly consumption-led growth, low private investment rates, and weak exports have
constrained productivity growth and pose risks to a sustained recovery. Aggregate
demand pressures have built up, in part due to previously accommodative fiscal and
monetary policies, contributing to double-digit inflation and a sharp rise in the import bill
with record-high trade deficits in H1 FY22 (Jul–Dec 2021). These have diminished the
real purchasing power of households and weighed on the exchange rate and the country’s
limited external buffers.
b. Real Sector
Growth
Economic
momentum
continued, but
business confidence
has declined
During H1 FY22, y-o-y growth in car production and sales, petroleum sales, and foreign
remittance inflows indicate continued momentum in economic activity and private
consumption. Similarly, investment is also expected to have increased with a strong
growth in machinery imports and government development expenditure. Government
consumption is also expected to have expanded given the 16.0 percent increase in
consolidated current expenditure in H1 FY22. Activity in the external sector was also
vibrant, with import and export values growing by 54.4 percent and 27.3 percent,
respectively. While the flow of bank loans to private businesses grew in this period, it was
led by an increase in working capital or short-term financing, particularly as businesses
faced higher input costs, as opposed to long-term or fixed investment financing. The
business confidence survey index also declined from a pandemic high of 64.0 in June
2021 to 53.4 in December 2021, indicating lower optimism in the business sector
regarding the economic outlook.4
Favorable weather
conditions are
expected to support
higher overall crop
production
In agriculture, estimates suggest that rice, sugarcane, and maize production will be higher
this year, reflecting better weather conditions.5 With regards to agriculture inputs,
agriculture credit disbursement grew 3.9 percent, and farm tractor sales increased by 21.2
percent in H1 FY22.6 Similarly, 97.7 percent of the sowing target for wheat has been met.7
----
Large-scale
industrial production
growth strengthened
The LSM index, a key indicator for industrial activity, increased by 7.5 percent y-o-y
during H1 FY22 compared to a muted growth of 1.5 percent in H1 FY21. Growth was
broad-based with 16 out of the 22 sectors recording higher production. Only

Riaz Haq said...

Arif Habib Limited
@ArifHabibLtd
Monthly Technology exports reached at all-time during Mar’22, up by 24% YoY and 29% MoM to $ 259mn.

During 9MFY22, technology recorded exports worth $ 1.9bn marking a 29% YoY jump.

https://twitter.com/ArifHabibLtd/status/1517809966501236737?s=20&t=-2F443Si_jwKLOdcalSC1A

----------


Arif Habib Limited
@ArifHabibLtd
Highest ever total exports in the month of Mar'22, up by 18% YoY | 9% MoM to USD 3.74bn.

https://twitter.com/ArifHabibLtd/status/1517797547171094528?s=20&t=-2F443Si_jwKLOdcalSC1A

----------

ICT exports surge to near $2 billion in 9M FY22

https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/23-Apr-2022/ict-exports-surge-to-near-dollar-2-billion-in-9m-fy22

Riaz Haq said...

there has been a robust growth of IT and IT-enabled (ITeS) remittances in the past five years. According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan (2020-2021), the compound annual growth rate for IT and related services reached 18.85 per cent, the highest growth rate of any industry in the region. In addition, micro enterprises, independent consultants and freelancers contributed around $500 million to IT and ITeS exports while the annual domestic revenue exceeded $1 billion.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1686067

According to the survey, from July to February of the outgoing fiscal year, IT export remittances in sectors including telecommunication and computer IT services surged to $1.29bn at a growth rate of 41.39pc, compared to $918m during the corresponding period in FY20. Enabling government policies have contributed to this remarkable growth. These include numerous sustainable development and accelerated digitisation projects, incentives to bolster growth, including 100pc equity ownership and specialised foreign currency (FCY) accounts for IT/ITeS firms and freelancers to fulfil operational demands, thus addressing a long-standing concern of IT companies regarding the easy inflow/outflow of foreign currency.

Now IT/ITeS companies and freelancers can keep 100pc of remittances received through proper banking channels in their FCY accounts without being forced to convert them to rupees. Moreover, outward transfers from FCY accounts are also unrestricted for Pakistan Software Export Board-registered IT companies and freelancers.

However, the revelation that the IT sector carries tremendous potential is not new, though the industry remains unexploited. Google recognised Pakistan as far back as 2018 for rapidly turning into a “digital-first country”. At present, Pakistan has the fourth-largest growing freelancers’ market globally. The country is known for software development, business process outsourcing (BPO) and freelancing of IT-related services.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s IT exports reach $1.94 billion within the first 9 months of the financial year 2021-22 (FY22)
However, due to political unrest, the country may not reach its desired target of $3.5 billion through IT exports.

https://pk.mashable.com/tech/15787/pakistans-it-exports-reach-194-billion-within-the-first-9-months-of-the-financial-year-2021-22-fy22


Pakistan’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) exports have skyrocketed in the current fiscal year (2021-22). The IT export value continues to close down the $2 billion mark in FY22.

According to the latest data released by the State Bank of Pakistan, the industry maintained a solid rise of inflows, which totaled $1.94 billion from July to March in the current financial year 2021-22, representing a 29.2 percent year-on-year gain.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak, Pakistani enterprises and freelancers have been capturing the increased global demand for tech-related services as a result of remote working and e-learning arrangements. During that time, exports of ICT services increased in practically all areas, including software consulting, call centers, and telecom services.

The net exports connected to the IT industry exclusively, excluding additional services like call centers, were $1.47 billion in the first nine months of this fiscal year, accounting for 75.56 percent of the overall $1.94 billion in ICT exports.

In comparison to FY21, net IT-only exports increased in the current fiscal year. Last year, net exports were $1.12 billion, accounting for 74.72 percent of the $1.50 billion in export proceeds.

With a quarter remaining in the fiscal year 2021-22, IT exports are likely to reach more than $2.5 billion by the conclusion of the current fiscal year. Due to political problems in the country, Pakistan may not be able to reach the desired target of $3.5 billion which was set by the previous government.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan has exported its first vehicle – made by Master Changan Motors – under the new Auto Industry Development and Export Policy (AIDEP 2021-26), according to a press release issued by the company on Thursday.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2356278/pakistan-exports-its-first-suv-class-vehicle

The press release stated that under the new auto policy, all OEMs would require to initiate vehicle exports to help develop the local industry and expand the export capability of the country. The Changan Oshan X7, which is the country’s first export unit under the new policy, is the first vehicle to be launched through a global RHD premiere earlier in March 2022.

Pakistan is the only country outside of China to produce the latest model of Changan Oshan X7.

The press release quoted the company's CEO Danial Malik in a ceremony in Karachi, “We are delighted and proud to lead Pakistan into a new chapter for the auto industry and make its mark on a global level”.

“The Changan Oshan X7 is the first of many more vehicles to be exported under our vision to stay Future Forward, Forever and the Auto Industry Development and Export Policy (AIDEP 2021-26)”, he added.

The company further added that Pakistan is Changan’s first and only RHD manufacturing base and is helping the brand expand globally.

It added that the state-of-the-art plant was completed in a record time of just 13 months and now has the capacity to produce 50,000 vehicles annually.

“Master Changan is our first RHD production base and we are very happy to export our RHD Oshan X7 SUV from Pakistan”, Steven Zhao – Vice CEO Master Changan Motors Limited stated.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan LSM (large scale manufacturing) sector grows 10.4% in Jul 2021-Mar 2022


https://tribune.com.pk/story/2356514/lsm-sector-grows-104-in-jul-mar


The economic advisory wing of the finance ministry (now under PMLN), which till March (under PTI) had been predicting around 5% overall growth rate, has suddenly cut the forecast to 4% in its latest publication.

Contrary to that, the Planning Commission expects the growth rate in the range of 5% to 5.4%, which will be higher than the last PTI government’s target for the current fiscal year.

-----------------------

Big industries grew 10.4% during the first nine months of current fiscal year on the back of a low base effect and better output in sugar and apparel sectors, increasing prospects of achieving around 5% overall economic growth in this fiscal year.

Large-scale manufacturing (LSM) industries recorded 10.4% growth during July-March of the ongoing fiscal year over the same period a year ago, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) reported on Friday.

PBS data suggested that the increase largely came from the food sector, which has over one-tenth weight in the LSM index and apparel wear, which has 6.1% weight.

The other factor that contributed to the healthy momentum was the low base, as the index was at 126 in March last year, which jumped to nearly 154 this year.

The past year’s trend suggests that the LSM will post higher growth in April and May as well due to the low base effect.

The 10.4% growth during the first nine months of current fiscal year has strengthened the chances of achieving around 5% gross domestic product (GDP) growth in this fiscal year ending in June.

The increase in sugarcane and sugar production will offset the 1.5 million tons’ decline in wheat production.

The economic advisory wing of the finance ministry, which till March had been predicting around 5% overall growth rate, has suddenly cut the forecast to 4% in its latest publication.

Contrary to that, the Planning Commission expects the growth rate in the range of 5% to 5.4%, which will be higher than the last PTI government’s target for the current fiscal year.

The National Accounts Committee – the body that works out the growth estimates on the basis of input from the provincial and federal government departments – will meet by the mid of next week to approve the provisional growth rate for fiscal year 2021-22.

The new government has decided to revive the stalled International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, which may also result in fiscal and monetary tightening to bring economic stability. This could hurt growth prospects for fiscal year 2022-23.

The previous government had targeted 4.8% economic growth for the current fiscal year. The IMF and other financial institutions have projected Pakistan’s economic growth in the range of 4% to 4.3%, which is a decent rate but nearly half of what is required to create jobs for all new entrants in the market.

The central bank has injected hundreds of billions of rupees into the economy, which provided a fresh impetus to the economic growth but fueled inflation in the country.

The LSM data is collected from three different sources. Data collected by the Oil Companies Advisory Council (OCAC) showed that the output of 36 items increased on an average by 2% in the first nine months of current fiscal year.

The Ministry of Industries, which monitors 11 products, reported a 10.3% increase in output during the July-March period. Provincial Bureaus of Statistics reported 12.1% growth in the output of 76 goods, stated the PBS.

On a yearly basis, the LSM sector showed 26.6% growth in March over the same month of last year. However, half of the increase in March output was because of increased production of sugar by the mills.

The industries that posted growth in the first nine months of current fiscal year included textile, which registered 3.2% growth.

The textile industry is the largest sector in the LSM index, having 18.2% weight. The production of apparel wear increased 34% during the first nine months of FY22.

Riaz Haq said...

PTI
@PTIofficial
Pakistan's economy showed robust growth across all sectors in FY2021-22; GDP grew by 6.0% while per capita income increased by 17.2% in PKR terms. Compiled by
@syed_maazuddin
, this shows how
@ImranKhanPTI
’s policies were beneficial for Pakistan.

https://twitter.com/PTIofficial/status/1528042187337998347?s=20&t=PleMYfaeROeyeIi36ecS7Q

Riaz Haq said...

GDP growth estimated at 5.97pc for FY 2021-22
By Ghulam Abbas

https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/2022/05/18/gdp-growth-estimated-at-5-97pc-for-fy-2021-22/


Pakistan has estimated the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in the range of approximately 6 percent for the current fiscal year with the major contributions of industrial and services sectors.

Unlike the IMF projection of a 4 percent GDP growth rate for Pakistan, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz led government has estimated a 5.97 percent provisional GDP growth rate for the year 2021-22.

The 105th meeting of the National Accounts Committee to review the final, revised and provisional estimates of GDP for the years 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 respectively was held on Wednesday under the chair of Secretary, MoPD&SI.

The provisional GDP growth rate for the year 2021-22 is estimated at 5.97% as broad-based growth was witnessed in all sectors of the economy.

Article continues after this advertisement
The growth of agricultural, industrial and services sectors is 4.40%, 7.19% and 6.19% respectively. Similarly, the growth of important crops during this year is 7.24%.

The growth in production of important crops namely Cotton, Rice, Sugarcane and Maize are estimated at 17.9%, 10.7%, 9.4% and 19.0% respectively.

The cotton crop increased from 7.1 million bales reported last year to 8.3 million bales; Rice production increased from 8.4 million tons to 9.3 million tons; Sugarcane production increased from 81.0 million tons to 88.7 million tons; Maize production increased from 8.4 million tons to 10.6 million tons respectively, whole Wheat production decreased from 27.5 million tons to 26.4 million tons. Other crops showed growth of 5.44% mainly because of an increase in the production of pulses, vegetables, fodder, oilseeds and fruits. The livestock sector is showing a growth of 3.26%. The growth of forestry is 3.13% and fishing is at 0.35%.

The overall industrial sector shows an increase of 7.19%. The mining and quarrying sector has decreased by 4.47% due to a decline in the production of other minerals as well as a decline in exploration costs. The Large Scale Manufacturing industry is driven primarily by QIM data (from July 2021 to March 2022) which shows an increase of 10.4%. Major contributors to this growth are Food (11.67%), Tobacco (16.7%), Textile (3.19%), Wearing Apparel (33.95%), Wood Products (157.5%), Chemicals (7.79%), Iron & Steel Products (16.55%), Automobiles (54.10%), Furniture (301.83%) and other manufacturing (37.83%). The electricity, gas and water industry shows a growth of 7.86% mainly due to an increase in subsidies in 2021-22. The value-added in the construction industry, mainly driven by construction-related expenditures by industries, has registered a modest growth of 3.14% mainly due to an increase in general government spending.

The services sector shows a growth of 6.19%. The wholesale and Retail Trade industry grew by 10.04%. It is dependent on the output of agriculture, manufacturing and imports. The growth in trade value-added relating to agriculture, manufacturing and imports stands at 3.99%, 9.82% and 19.93% respectively. Transportation & Storage industry has increased by 5.42% due to an increase in gross value addition of railways (41.85%), air transport (26.56%), road transport (4.99%) and storage. Accommodation and food services activities have increased by 4.07%. Similarly, Information and communication increased by 11.9% due to improvements in telecommunication, computer programming, consultancy and related activities.

Riaz Haq said...

GDP growth estimated at 5.97pc for FY 2021-22
By Ghulam Abbas

https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/2022/05/18/gdp-growth-estimated-at-5-97pc-for-fy-2021-22/


The finance and insurance industry shows an overall increase of 4.93% mainly due to an increase in deposits and loans. Real estate activities grew by 3.7% while public administration and social security (general government) activities posted negative growth of 1.23% due to high deflators. Education has witnessed a growth of 8.65% due to public sector expenditure. Human health and social work activities also increased by 2.25% due to general government expenditures. The provisional growth in other private services is 3.76%.

Overall, the GDP of the country at current market prices has reached Rs.66.949 trillion in 2021-22 which has resulted in an increase in per capita income from Rs.268,223 in 2020-21 to Rs.314,353 in 2021-22 besides the volume of the economy in dollars in 2021-22 stands at $383 billion.

According to details, the meeting also updated the provisional GDP estimates for the year 2020-21 and revised GDP estimates for the year 2019-20 presented in the 104th meeting of the NAC held in January 2022 on the basis of the latest available data.

The final growth rate of GDP for the year 2019-20 has been estimated at -0.94% which was -1.0% in the revised estimates. The revised growth rate of GDP for the year 2020-21 is 5.74% which was provisionally estimated at 5.57%.

The crop sub-sector has improved from 5.92% to 5.96%. The other crops have improved from provisional growth of 8.08% to 8.27% in revised estimates. The growth of the industrial sector in the revised estimates is 7.81% which was 7.79% in the provisional estimates while the growth of the services sector has improved from 5.7% to 6.0%.

Controversy about Chief Economist’s resignation:

Earlier on Wednesday, it emerged that Chief Economist Planning commission Dr Ahmad Zubair resigned from the position owing to exerting pressure from the high ups of planning and finance ministries on GDP numbers.

Sources on the condition of anonymity said that the Minister for planning and the minister of State for finance Ayesha Ghous Pasha have asked the relevant people in the planning commission to sit with the principal economic advisor Finance ministry on growth numbers with contending that GDP growth would be around 4% in the current fiscal year.

When the official of the planning commission stated that they had made a presentation to the previous minister for planning that as per the statistics of production data of various sectors indicates that GDP growth would be around 5.5 to 6 percent upon this minister of state for finance said that there was a shortfall in the projected projection of wheat crop. The official replied that even with this shortfall of 0.1 million metric tons, the production of sugarcane, rice and cotton as well as tomatoes was considerably higher.

Officials further stated that it would not be possible to show less growth on the basis of data available to all the stakeholders therefore such an effort would affect the compromise of PBS data.

Later on, a letter issued by Ahmad Zubair stated that there is news trending on social and electronic media that I resigned from the position of Chief Economist, planning Commission on account of manipulation attempts concerning FY22 GDP growth estimates. I would like to state that PBS has the mandate to estimate National accounts and that the M/PD&SI has no role in matters related to estimating GDP growth.

Riaz Haq said...

Our total consumption of wheat and atta is about 125kg per capita per year. Our per person per day calorie intake has risen from about 2,078 in 1949-50 to 2,400 in 2001-02 and 2,580 in 2020-21

By Riaz Riazuddin former deputy governor of the State Bank of Pakistan.


https://www.dawn.com/news/1659441/consumption-habits-inflation

As households move to upper-income brackets, the share of spending on food consumption falls. This is known as Engel’s law. Empirical proof of this relationship is visible in the falling share of food from about 48pc in 2001-02 for the average household. This is an obvious indication that the real incomes of households have risen steadily since then, and inflation has not eaten up the entire rise in nominal incomes. Inflation seldom outpaces the rise in nominal incomes.

Coming back to eating habits, our main food spending is on milk. Of the total spending on food, about 25pc was spent on milk (fresh, packed and dry) in 2018-19, up from nearly 17pc in 2001-01. This is a good sign as milk is the most nourishing of all food items. This behaviour (largest spending on milk) holds worldwide. The direct consumption of milk by our households was about seven kilograms per month, or 84kg per year. Total milk consumption per capita is much higher because we also eat ice cream, halwa, jalebi, gulab jamun and whatnot bought from the market. The milk used in them is consumed indirectly. Our total per person per year consumption of milk was 168kg in 2018-19. This has risen from about 150kg in 2000-01. It was 107kg in 1949-50 showing considerable improvement since then.

Since milk is the single largest contributor in expenditure, its contribution to inflation should be very high. Thanks to milk price behaviour, it is seldom in the news as opposed to sugar and wheat, whose price trend, besides hurting the poor is also exploited for gaining political mileage. According to PBS, milk prices have risen from Rs82.50 per litre in October 2018 to Rs104.32 in October 2021. This is a three-year rise of 26.4pc, or per annum rise of 8.1pc. Another blessing related to milk is that the year-to-year variation in its prices is much lower than that of other food items. The three-year rise in CPI is about 30pc, or an average of 9.7pc per year till last month. Clearly, milk prices have contributed to containing inflation to a single digit during this period.

Next to milk is wheat and atta which constitute about 11.2pc of the monthly food expenditure — less than half of milk. Wheat and atta are our staple food and their direct consumption by the average household is 7kg per capita (84kg per capita per year). As we also eat naan from the tandoors, bread from bakeries etc, our indirect consumption of wheat and atta is 41kg per capita. Our total consumption of wheat and atta is about 125kg per capita per year. Our per person per day calorie intake has risen from about 2,078 in 1949-50 to 2,400 in 2001-02 and 2,580 in 2020-21. The per capita per day protein intake in grams increased from 63 to 67 to about 75 during these years. Does this indicate better health? To answer this, let us look at how we devour ghee and sugar. Also remember that each person requires a minimum of 2,100 calories and 60g of protein per day.

Undoubtedly, ghee, cooking oil and sugar have a special place in our culture. We are familiar with Urdu idioms mentioning ghee and shakkar. Two relate to our eating habits. We greet good news by saying ‘Aap kay munh may ghee shakkar’, which literally means that may your mouth be filled with ghee and sugar. We envy the fortune of others by saying ‘Panchon oonglian ghee mei’ (all five fingers immersed in ghee, or having the best of both worlds). These sayings reflect not only our eating trends, but also the inflation burden of the rising prices of these three items — ghee, cooking oil and sugar. Recall any wedding dinner. Ghee is floating in our plates.