Pakistan Economic Survey 2018-19
Overview of the Economy
The macroeconomic stability is a fundamental pre-requisite for sustained economic growth. Pakistan’s economy has experienced frequent boom and bust cycles. Typically, each cycle comprised of 3-4 years of relatively higher growth followed by a macroeconomic crisis which necessitated the stabilization programs. The inability to achieve sustained and rapid economic growth is due to structural issues which require effective monetary and fiscal measures to achieve macroeconomic stability.
The outgoing five-year plan has seen an average growth of 4.7 percent against the target of 5.4 percent. This growth can be characterized as consumption-led growth. The unplanned borrowing from different sources increased both private and public consumption resulting in higher debt repayment liabilities, which created severe macroeconomic imbalances. The investment did not pick up as higher demand was met primarily through imports leading to enormous rise in external imbalances. Due to low growth in revenues and the unplanned and unproductive expenditures, the fiscal deficit widened. The persistence of large fiscal and current account deficits and associated build up of public and external debt became the major source of macroeconomic imbalance.
The new elected government faces formidable macroeconomic challenges. The foremost challenge to the economy is the rising aggregate demand without corresponding resources to support it, leading to rising fiscal and external account deficits. To address the issue of severe macroeconomic instability and to put the economy on the path of sustained growth and stability, the government has introduced a comprehensive set of economic and structural reform measures.
As a short-term measure to get a breathing space, the government secured $ 9.2 billion from friendly countries to build up buffers and to ensure timely repayment of previous loans. The government has also taken some overdue tough decisions i.e. increase in energy tariffs to stop further accumulation of circular debt, reduction in imports through regulatory duties and withdrawal of some of the tax relaxations given in the last budget in order to arrest the deterioration in primary balance. These painful decisions were tough for the new elected government, but at the same time were necessary for economic stabilization. Recently, staff level agreement has been negotiated with the IMF to avail Extended Fund Facility for achieving macroeconomic stability. The staff level agreement will now be placed before the IMF Board for its approval.
The impact of macroeconomic adjustment policies, such as monetary tightening, exchange rate adjustment, expenditure control and enhancement of regulatory duties on non-essential imports, started to become visible this year. These steps have served to bring some degree of stability and have also helped in reducing economic uncertainty. However, the situation calls for sustained efforts.
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