Pakistan’s economy is having a hard time is no revelation. While the incumbent government, led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, is doing all it can to treat the ills, many an economic expert believe it is the remedy that has worsened the malady. The policies adopted by current economic managers, meant to achieve economic stability in a country with negligible FDI and exports totalling half as much as imports, have literally squeezed the common man dry. Fiscal tightening measures, coupled with currency depreciation, have turned inflation into a double-digit demon and led to a notable fall in the economic growth rate. While the government claims that it has achieved the economic stability and is now all set to hit the road to growth and then move on to attain prosperity, there are apprehensions that the economy will be able to turn the tight corner.
A recent report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has affirmed all apprehensions about the flagging economy during the ongoing fiscal year i.e. FY2019-20. The Asian Development Outlook Update 2019 released by the bank yesterday has projected that Pakistan’s economic growth rate will be 2.8% — the lowest in South Asia — and its inflation rate will be 12% — the highest in the bloc of eight nations — during the current fiscal year. In its previous outlook released six months back, the bank had forecast 3.6% growth rate and 7% inflation for the current fiscal year. With a 2.8% growth rate, Pakistan’s economy will be the slowest growing economy in South Asia. Like the last fiscal year, Bangladesh’s economy will be fastest-growing at a rate of 8%, followed by India at 7.2%, and the Maldives and Nepal at 6.3%. Even war-torn Afghanistan’s economy is projected to grow at a higher rate — 3.5% — than Pakistan’s.
What’s even more troubling is the ADB predicting yet another round of hikes in electricity and gas tariffs. The warning for the common man is thus pretty clear: hard days are hard to go.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 27th, 2019.