Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has painted a challenging economic picture in the National Economic Survey. Pakistan’s economic growth rate for the current financial year stood at a mere 0.29 percent. Joined by Federal Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal, Dar emphasised the difficulties faced during the last financial year, expressing the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance to publish the Economic Survey. He highlighted the country’s economic decline, noting that Pakistan had dropped from the 24th to the 47th largest economy in the world.
The areas covered in the survey include agriculture, capital markets, health, education, and communications. The government’s focus is on the “Five Ease” policy, prioritizing export, equity, energy, empowerment, and environment, while the importance of restoring macroeconomic stability and acknowledged the challenges faced in dealing with the increasing current account deficit cannot be undermined. A significant portion of revenue collection is being allocated towards interest payments, which can be blamed on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s tenure, when loans and liabilities increased by 100 percent, amounting to a staggering Rs7,000 billion. No doubt these issues had inflicted considerable damage on the country.
According to the National Economic Survey, the current financial year witnessed a growth rate of 0.29 percent, with the agriculture sector growing at 1.55 percent, the industrial sector experiencing a decline of 2.94 percent, and the services sector showing a modest growth rate of 0.86 percent. The survey attributed the decline in growth to factors such as floods, a global recession, and tough economic decisions. Rising global commodity prices, floods impacting crop production, political instability, and the depreciating rupee were identified as key contributors to inflation.
The Economic Survey also highlighted significant figures, including a decrease of 76 percent in the current account deficit over a ten-month period, an increase of 16.1 percent in tax revenue collected by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), and a decline in imports and exports. However, foreign direct investment witnessed a decrease of 23.2 percent, and the manufacturing and construction sectors experienced negative growth rates. The National Economic Survey does not give paint a rosy picture as challenging economic landscape is ahead. The government needs keep on concerted efforts to address the issues faced and achieve macroeconomic stability.