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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

1 April 2020, Wednesday 

Covid-19’s Economic impact cannot be quantified: Ministry of Finance



Rangers to ensure Sindh opens goods transport lines; Pakistan’s economy will face a loss of 4.64%: PIDE; FIghting CoronaVirus: Punjab follows Sindh

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In brief

Rangers will ensure Sindh opens goods transport lines: PM

Lakshmi V Menon

On 31 March 2020, at a press conference following a federal cabinet meeting, SAPM on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said PM Imran Khan was displeased with the unfulfillment of the “NCC’s decision to keep transport lines open for essential goods” by the Sindh government. “(NCC) decisions were not implemented in their true spirit in Sindh,” Firdous said. During the meeting, the PM ordered Rangers to ensure its implementation in the Sindh province. Regarding the issue, the federal government and provincial governments have been conflicting. (The Express Tribune, 1 April 2020) 

Previously, the NCC had decided to continue the functioning of essential goods’ transport in all four provinces, and Pakistan administered parts of J&K.  
According to Firdous, during the Cabinet meeting, measures to be undertaken to deal with Pakistan’s Covid-related economic plight were discussed; the relief package was formally approved; the Pakistan International Airlines and Railways were given deadlines for completion of reforms; domestic Sukuk bonds were approved; transparency amongst different government departments was urged; and the PM was informed about public treating patients as “untouchables”. Ms. Firdous also criticized the opposition leader PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif for politicizing the pandemic and invited him to donate generously to the PM’s relief fund dedicated to Covid-19. 

Meanwhile, in a separate press briefing, Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar emphasised the importance of maintaining a balance between economic functioning and curbing the pandemic’s spread; Health Minister Dr Zafar Mirza expressed displeasure over mistreatment of patients; and Hammad Azhar, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, stressed the need for functioning of essential goods producing industries.


In brief

Covid-19’s Economic impact cannot be quantified: Ministry of FInance

Lakshmi V Menon

On 31 March 2020, Ministry of Finance released the first Economic Update. An independent assessment placed the fourth fiscal quarter’s national output losses between Rs891 billion to Rs1.6 trillion. MoF says economic growth’s degree of decline remains uncertain due to the pandemic. (The Express Tribune, 1 April 2020) 
Previously, a three per cent GDP growth was projected for FY20. However, the pandemic would have a multi-sectoral and multi-channel impact on Pakistani economy. As per the publication, the economic decline in China, US, Middle east and the EU would impact Pakistan; tax and non-tax revenues will suffer; and cause disturbances in fiscal balance.

According to the comprehensive assessment of COVID-19 related anticipated economic losses jointly published by Dr Hafiz Pasha, former finance minister, and Shahid Kardar, former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, the economic slowdown due to rampant unemployment will have a long-term effect. The authors argued that in case of a less severe shock, the GDP would fall by 4.6 per cent (loss of Rs891 billion), whereas in the case of more severe shocks, it would decline by 9.5 per cent (loss of Rs1.6 trillion). They estimated the lockdown resulted temporary unemployment at 10.5 million workers and estimated over 9 to 15 million people would fall below the poverty line. They also projected Rs150 billion to Rs290 billion in tax revenue loss. 

MoF argued that Pakistan’s economy was stabilizing before it was hit by coronavirus’ multifaceted challenges; fiscal deficit of FY20 was 3.2 per cent during Jul-January while it was 3.8 per cent in FY19 corresponding period.

 

In brief

Pakistan’s economy will face a loss up to 4.64%: PIDE

Lakshmi V Menon

The Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) assigned by the Planning Commission to assess the economic impact of coronavirus, has projected a loss of up to 4.64 per cent in GDP. PIDE, supervised by vice-chancellor Dr Nadeem-ul-Haq, considered three scenarios: first, GDP growth of -0.3 per cent with a 2 per cent reduction in imports; second, GDP growth of -2.3 per cent with a 10 per cent reduction in exports and imports; and third GDP growth of -4.64 per cent with a 20 per cent reduction in exports and imports. While the national lockdown’s impact was not considered, potential decline in remittances and FDI, trade disruptions, other multi-sectoral disruptions like aviation and tourism were analysed. (The News International, 1 April 2020) 

PIDE said countries part of the global value chain would definitely experience the impact of coronavirus. Since four out of the five major trade partners of Pakistan (China, USA, UK, Japan, and Germany) were hit by the pandemic, Pakistan would also suffer. While Japan and China experienced a 15 per cent decline in exports, US, UK and Germany have recorded a 5 per cent drop. China and US are Pakistan’s major importing partners (for raw materials) and export partners (textiles, food products). Any significant blow to these nations will definitely translate in the economy of Pakistan. 

PIDE said the decline may persist in the near future due to import disruptions of capital and intermediate goods, China’s Covid-19 recovery and reduced export demands. It concluded that lack of diversification and dependency on commodity goods will detrimentally affect Pakistan economy’s resilience. 
 

In brief

FIghting CoronaVirus: Punjab follows Sindh

Lakshmi V Menon

On 31 March 2020, with 25 new patients testing positive, coronavirus cases in the Punjab province soared to 676, with nine deaths, forcing the provincial government to follow Sindh’s footsteps regarding the lockdown. It was decided that all grocery and general stores would be allowed to remain open from 9am to 5pm; the time restriction does not apply to medical stores and pharmacies. The decision was announced by the Home Department following a Cabinet meeting on 31 March. Previously, Punjab had advised the groceries and retail shops to operate from 8am to 5pm. (The News International, 1 April 2020) 

The Punjab CM Sardar Usman Buzdar assured the government would undertake all measures for protecting the people. The province completely locked down the city of Raiwind, including essential goods stores and pharmacies, owing to 27 more people testing positive in the city. The patients have been shifted to the quarantine facilities in Kasur and Kala Shah Kaku.

Presently, Pakistan has 2,037 confirmed coronavirus cases and a nationwide death toll of 26; 49 people have recovered from the disease.

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