Covid-19 and Pakistani Economy
Shaikh Moazzam Khan
By Shaikh Moazzam Khan
Global economy is facing severe backlash due to the outbreak of coronavirus globally known as Covid-19. No country is in a position to say that it is safe from the jolts of pandemic. The global economy has come to standstill due to pandemic and likely global recession. Even, American economy is near the collapse amid declining exports and oil prices. President Trump seems unhappy with the international response to contain the spread of coronavirus. He is continuously accusing Chinese government of spreading lies and pandemic in the world. Anyways, that is another debate.
Who is responsible for the virus is question, which should be addressed by international organizations at least. As Covid-19 pandemic has destroyed global economy, we need to understand the likely economic backlash in Pakistan as well. Pakistan’s dwindling economy suffered terrible slowdown due to the lockdown and decline in exports. Thanks to the friendly countries such as China, UK, EU, US and Turkey who came to rescue Pakistani economy and overall situation.
At the time of economic crisis, Pakistani government is going all out to provide relief to the people despite the economic backlash and rapidly decreasing foreign exchange reserves. By keeping in mind the difficulties, which people are facing, government announced biggest relief package in the history of country. The relief package is worth 1200 billion rupees. From agriculture sector to auto industry and many other sectors, government announced special packages and reduced taxes on these sectors to boost up the economy and revive these industries. Government of Pakistan is giving 12,000 rupees in cash to those deserving families and daily wagers who lost their jobs due to the lockdown. Prime Minister Imran Khan, during the interaction with media persons, revealed that approximately 80 billion rupees distributed among needy people purely on merit basis under the Prime Minister Ehsas Programme. The programme is not over yet.
The government of Pakistan is using all possible means to facilitate the people and reduce the prices of different commodities. Owing to the decline in oil prices, government decided to pass the benefit to people and decided to reduce the oil prices. Despite the downfall trends in economic indicators in the last three months, government has slashed the oil prices almost 40% from 120 to 76 rupees per litre. It also slashed the prices of other petroleum products like light speed diesel, high octane and high speed diesel. With the decrease in fuel prices, inflation rate slipped to lowest in last two years. In addition to this, State Bank of Pakistan also decided to slash interest rate just to facilitate investors and investment in the country. The State Bank cut interest rate from 14.25% to 8% in just past three months.
The State Bank also offered credit schemes with lowest mark ups for private companies just to stop them to fire their employees. These are the few measures undertaken by Pakistani government for the people. It is doing what it can do to protect the interests of the people. But, unfortunately, some people are mocking government’s steps, terming them useless. Before slamming the government, one should not forget here that Pakistan is among those countries whose economy suffered to larger extant due to the pandemic. With limited resources, it is working tirelessly to facilitate all the sectors. Prime Minister Imran Khan is personally looking into the matter and ensuring maximum benefits for people.
Likewise, some people are using the situation for the personal and political gains. They are overriding national interests of the country, by inciting people against the government and its institutions. They should not forget that Pakistan has the cheapest inflation rate in South Asia. Fuel prices lowest in this region as wisely said by honourable PM Imran Khan a few days back. The government is keeping close eye on daily wagers and labourers, and doing its best to provide them with maximum relief packages. The decrease in fuel prices will likely to have positive impacts on the overall economic environment. It hurts country’s image and policies when opposition parties make fun of PM Imran Khan and his government. They are twisting the facts and figures to mislead the people. They are projecting these facts with their own perceptions and assessments.
Contrary to the claims of opposition parties, government’s policies are positively working and stabilizing the economy, by putting it on the right track. The people of Pakistan are endorsing PM Imran Khan’s crackdown on hoarders and corrupt people. Opposition parties are afraid of accountability. But they are not going to escape this time. Those who looted the money and assets of this country will be punished and held accountable as PM Imran Khan promised.
At the end I would suggest that all political parties must set aside their political differences for the sake of national interests of the country. They must join hands with government to fight with the Covid-19 pandemic and find batter solution for the country’s economic future. Political differences and blame game is weakening Pakistan’s fight against the pandemic due to which overall condition is worsening. The situation is moving towards point of no return. Instead of regretting later, political leaders of the country must have to unite. Government is rightly doing what it can do as I said earlier. No one harm the interests of the country. If someone has batter idea he or she can share with concerned authorities who are already working for the betterment of the country