Islamabad: /DNA/ – The COVID-19 has hit even the economies of developed countries that are still struggling to get revived back. On contrary, the international financial institutions that have been sharing concerns about the economic indicators of Pakistan are today quoting examples of measures we have taken during the pandemic. The prices of edible oil and petroleum products tend to go up and thus, it is impacting Pakistan as well. The halt of trade with India through borders is also having its impact on the prices. The provincial governments and district administrations need to play their role to keep the prices in check. Dr Abid Suleri, Executive Director, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), said this during a special session held by Progressive Writers Association, here at national Press Club, Islamabad.  

Dr Suleri on the occasion said that the economy tends to get under pressure due to imbalance between income and expenditure. It was a general perception that Pakistan and several other countries will be facing economic slowdown and food insecurity. However, in practical terms, people in countries like America were seen looting food items and stores due to shortage of these items. In Pakistan, not a single hunger related death has been reported and it was made possible due to some steps under social protection mechanisms. The effectiveness of these measures has been acknowledged at global level.  

“The growth rate of Pakistan was being projected as 1.3% to 1.5% by international financial institutions but Pakistan has been able to achieve a growth rate of 3.9%,” Dr Suleri said while attributing this success to special incentives to various sectors of economy, Smart lockdown policy, and steps to respond reservations shared by FATF, especially to curb illegal channels for the transactions of remittances. Roashan Digital Account is also a positive step and helped in winning trust at international level.       

The Executive Director of SDPI added further that the money that could not be spent by rich Pakistanis on international tourism etc. also remained in circulation within country and thus, helped in getting better indicators. Due to regulation of the remittances, Pakistan receives remittances from Saudi Arabia worth 7 billion dollars and from UAE, 6.5 billion dollars. The increase in importance and lesser exports however resulted as pressure on rupee which could be tackle through right policies of the State Bank of Pakistan.  

Dr Suleri hinted on the occasion that the government tends to import 0.6-million-ton sugar and 2.0-million-ton wheat to ensure food security in the country. In response to various queries raised by the participants, he said that the provincial governments and district administration should come forward to play role in keeping the prices in check whereas government should help people to increase their income to be able to absorb the shocks they face due to inflation.