- The signs augur well
By Muhammad Zahid Rifat
Any country’s progress, development and prosperity is linked with the national growth rate both directly and indirectly. If the economic growth rate is good, then there is lot of relief for the people at large.
Pakistan is a developing country and its economic growth rate is not so high and keeps going up and down due to various factors every now and then.
When the incumbent government took over in August 2018 as a result of free, fair, impartial general elections, it had inherited a not-so-good economic situation although the previous government claimed to the contrary.
However, the peoples elected government accepted the challenge boldly and set on taking all possible measures for setting the house in order, particularly the economic situation as without a better economic growth rate, there could be no progress nor development of the country, and no prosperity as well as no relief measures for the people at large.
Accordingly, the economic managers’ team embarked on taking some hard decisions and working on economic reforms. and without keeping the people in the dark, kept asking them to be ready to face the difficult situation with courage and boldness for some time, and things would certainly start improving in due course of time.
After the passage of little more than year, Prime Minister Imran Khan and his economic managers have at last started talking about promising economic indicators as a result of economic reforms and harsh, unpleasant and difficult but unavoidable decisions which the incumbent government has been taking ever since it assumed the reins.
Unmindful of what the opposition parties and their leaders have been saying, the government has been keeping the people updated and duly informed about the achievements which are being made to improve the economic situation and set the house on the whole in order.
It is good and quite appreciable to note that red economic sector figures have steadily and slowly started turning green as a result of persistent economic sector reforms. It is also worth mentioning here that the government is keeping the people duly informed about whatever major or minor achievements are being made in the economic sector on almost monthly basis.
The improved economic situation of the country will also greatly help in bringing the prices of essential daily use articles down considerably and checking their price hike in line with the government’s commitment and determination to serve the people and improve their standard of living. This would also help in changing the mind-set of the people and working individually and collectively for putting the country on the path of progress, development and prosperity
International financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank were also giving positive statements about Pakistan’s economy growing slowly and steadily.
Not only the economic managers’ team, but the Prime Minister himself, who also holds the portfolio of Finance, are putting these economic improvement facts and figures before the nation regularly.
Owing to the tough economic reforms introduced, and persisted in, by the government in a determined manner in the face of harsh criticism from the opposition, the twin deficits of the current account and the fiscal were reported to have decreased significantly during the first quarter of the current financial year, July to September. During the period, exports have increased and imports have decreased. Exports somehow were stagnant for the last five years, but have also started showing signs of growth.
The current account deficit had shrunk by as much as 35 per cent as it had come down from $9 billion to $5.7 billion. Likewise, the fiscal deficit had also come down from Rs 738 billion to Rs 436 billion.
According to the latest figures available, the current account during October has gone into a surplus, by $99 million, for the first time in four years. Comparatively, the current account was in deficit by $1.28 billion in October 2018.
Revenue collection had witnessed about 16 per cent growth during the period under review and the government had not borrowed any supplementary grant from the State Bank of Pakistan, ensuring adherence to strict fiscal discipline.
The non-revenue income also registered about 40 per cent growth compared the corresponding period of first quarter of last year and is likely to reach Rs 1600 billion against target of Rs 1200 billion.
The net portfolio investment also increased by $340 million which also helped in restoring confidence of foreign investors.
Pakistani workers working and settled in a number of foreign countries around the world are also playing important role in the growth of national economic growth by sending their home remittances through proper and official channels. Their number is also increasing with the passage of time. During last fiscal year, 224,000 Pakistanis had gone abroad while this year, this number has already surged to 373.000.
Non-tax collection is expected to increase Rs 400 billion to as much as Rs 1.6 trillion during the current financial year by June 2020. The government had collected Rs 406 billion during the period under review. Additionally, Rs 338 billion are most likely to be collected from Telecommunication Sector, Rs200 billion from profit of the State Bank of Pakistan, Rs 300 billion from the privatisation of two Liquified Natural Gas (LNG)-based power plants, Rs 120 billion from dividends and interest and Rs 250 billion from the Petroleum Development Levy.
All these indicators augur well. With the improved economic growth rate, the government will obviously be in a much better and comfortable position to take more measures and initiatives for the welfare and well-being of the people and elimination of unemployment and poverty to a great extent. The improved economic situation of the country will also greatly help in bringing the prices of essential daily use articles down considerably and checking their price hike in line with the government’s commitment and determination to serve the people and improve their standard of living. This would also help in changing the mind-set of the people and working individually and collectively for putting the country on the path of progress, development and prosperity.
The writer can be reached at [email protected]