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ADB predicts Pakistan’s economic recovery in current fiscal year

ADB Predicts Pakistan’s Economic Recovery in the Current Fiscal Year

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan is expected to experience a broad economic recovery in the current fiscal year (2020-2021) as the economic climate improves with the predicted decline of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and the resumption of structural reforms, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Tuesday.
The Asian Development Outlook (ADO) update released on Tuesday, revised the 2020 growth forecast for Pakistan to -0.4% and the 2021 growth forecast to 2.0%.
In April, the ADB predicted that Pakistan would grow 2.6 percent this year and 3.2 percent next year.
COVID-19 severely affected economic activity in 2020, erasing gains made in the first half of the fiscal year. The suspension of travel and the closure of non-essential businesses have caused simultaneous supply and demand shocks.
Rising food prices pushed inflation down from 6.8% in FY2019 to 10.7% in FY2020; however, inflation is expected to slow to 7.5% in FY2021.
The current account deficit has narrowed significantly as merchandise imports fell sharply due to containment disruptions, lower oil prices and the depreciation of the local currency.
In FY2021, the current account deficit is expected to remain contained at the equivalent of 2.4% of GDP, unchanged from the ADO 2020 forecast, the report said.
As inflationary pressures eased, the State Bank of Pakistan lowered its policy rate by 625 basis points cumulative from March to June 2020 to 7.0% and introduced additional measures to support economic recovery.
“Pakistan has achieved notable success in overcoming the dual health and economic challenge presented by COVID-19,” AfDB Country Director for Pakistan Xiaohong Yang said.
He said as the curve flattens and business activity picks up, the economy is showing signs of resilience and recovery.
The government’s rapid mobilization on August 24 of a 1.2 trillion rupee relief package including emergency financial support to daily wage earners, cash transfers to low-income families, accelerated wheat purchases, support for health and food supply, and financial support for small and medium-sized businesses have helped protect the poor and most vulnerable during the pandemic, he added.
Agriculture remained mostly unchanged on the supply side, as its growth accelerated from 0.6% in FY2019 to 2.7% in FY2020 despite a severe locust infestation which damaged the crops of many crops, notably the cotton. Greater availability of water has allowed for increased production of wheat, rice and maize, as have government subsidies for fertilizers and increased disbursements of agricultural credits.
However, the industry contracted 2.6% in fiscal 2020, as closures and supply chain disruptions related to COVID-19 exacerbated other adverse factors affecting the industry since ‘the fiscal year 2019.
The current account deficit fell from the equivalent of 4.8 percent of GDP in 2019 to 1.1 percent in 2020, with almost all imports seeing sharp reductions.
The merchandise trade deficit narrowed by 27.9%, as the global slowdown, falling oil prices and the depreciation of the rupee caused merchandise imports to drop 18.2%, according to the report.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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