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2 years of PTI with the economy
As PTI comes onto two years, I felt like making this post on account of seeing multiple people supporting PML-N for having an allegedly better economy for Pakistan, particularly with allegations present that PTI has done nothing for the economy. So here's a short list of some major achievements done by PTI in contrast to PML-N.
Stopping Pakistan from defaulting: The move to devalue the rupee was one done despite knowing the backlash that would be faced. Under Nawaz Sharif the rupee was artificially overvalued through loans and forex reserves, this meant Pakistan had no sustainable way for repaying those massive loans. Imran Khan on the other hand had to approach the IMF due to these overlaying maturing debts, lack of growth in exports under PMLN, decline in Foreign Direct Investment and an ever higher import bill. This was done at the cost of letting the rupee massively devalue against the dollar, however paved the path for economic stability as noted by the IMF.
Renewed focus on taxation: Easily the most controversial facet of the economic policy by PTI, but one that has shown merit and results. Overall, there has been a 40% increase in returns filers and a 17% revenue increase. This coupled with a massive austerity scheme, meant that the government has started an incline towards increasing it's revenues. While this hasn't been met with open arms, it presents a solution to the everpresent crisis that the Pakistan government has faced, in it's inability to increase it's revenues. Not only that, but the general taxation system was streamlined, making it easier for individuals to file taxes. Introductions of new apps and consolidating activities for the FBR were among the efforts as well. Moreover, businesses that were entitled to tax refunds are finally being granted them, under PMLN they were held onto so as to inflate collection numbers, however under PTI that has changed and it's not inflated. It is worth noting, that because of the covid-19 pandemic, the effect of the austerity schemes and feasibility have seriously dampened, and it's created a bigger problem for increasing revenue collection.
It is worth noting, that some may criticise the overall decrease in the account deficit to be a result of the decrease in imports, and the increase in worker remittances, however this was indeed a result of the overall economic impact from the covid-19 pandemic. And that general trends support the notion of exports increasing and the account deficit decreasing in the second quarter of 2019.
Tourism: The reforms and measures taken to facilitate tourism in Pakistan were evidently among the most successful — Pakistan went from being sidelined to being amongst the worlds top destinations to visit. There were multiple reasons for this, the removal of the mandatory NOC, the initiative for online visas for upto 175 countries alongside visa-on-arrival for 50 countries were among the facilitating measures taken for tourism.
Foreign Direct Investment: What can be appreciated is the general reception of Pakistan's economic outlook, where FDI climbed by upto 137% within this fiscal year, gathering upto nearly $2.1 billion. Yet, once again — the pandemic will undoubtedly cause most countries to rethink their economic policies for now, and the overall FDI might see a downward trend with regards to global decrease in FDI. Despite, the increases in FDI are welcomed, especially considering total foreign investment rose 380 percent to $2.375 billion in July-March FY2020. Yet the sustainability of this remains to be seen.
Dealing with covid: Despite all odds, Pakistan has somehow managed to deal well with the pandemic. Coming out relatively alright, in perspective of countries such as India, Mexico, Italy, Brazil etc. The factor that plays out, is that despite being incredibly vulnerable, the country managed to pull through and has markedly reduced the impact of the virus. With regards to the economy, taking a bold risk of abating a complete lockdown, whilst met with criticism was once again a factor that showed competency. Keeping in mind that 51 million Pakistanis lived below the poverty line, and the adverse effect it would have on the economy. Pakistan managed to come through the economic contraction with only a -0.38% growth. Although the full effects are still not abated or understood, what's commendable is the fact that Pakistan under PTI has kept itself from an even worse situation. Whilst managing to keep covid under relative control. Especially given increases in exports despite the pandemic in countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Italy.
This is by no means a highly comprehensive list, just my opinion on some of the bigger achievements; saving the economy from defaulting, adopting tax reforms, tourism reforms, export reforms among them whilst managing covid and economic stability with relative success. There are of course a multitude of other factors, successfully avoiding a blacklist from the FATF, macroeconomic reforms, attempts to strengthen the working class; ehsaas programs, Naya Pakistan housing schemes alongside other relief efforts. These are measures in accordance with curtailing the effect of increasing taxation and attempts to abate the economic slowdown that came as a result of forcing an increase in government revenue. Alongside the focus on multiple new hydroelectric dams, industrial cities, reduction of the PM office staff from 552 to 298, 10 billion tree project and an overall renewed interest in renewable energy and green Pakistan. The list is comprehensive. Pakistan remains on a rocky path, it is not out of the woods yet. Covid-19 has seriously hampered the overall projections, and caused a worldwide economic contraction. Not only that, but there are criticisms that can be attributed to the government as well, as they are not without fault. However, the overall achievements of the government with regards to the economy do present hope for the long-term fiscal policy and development of Pakistan.
IMF Strict Conditions- A Major Threat to the Country’s Economy
Pak Revenue The direction of the country’s economy needs to be corrected otherwise; the current economic condition may lead to great haram in the near future. Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Shahid Rasheed Butt said, “A 17% increase in revenue and enhanced forex reserves amid economic slowdown are surprising and indicate that country is not heading in the right direction.” Despite the steady economic growth of the country, the revenue was still increasing due to the business community targeted to pay tax by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) officials. Shahid Rasheed Butt informed that an ambitious revenue target set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) couldn’t be met by the Federal Board of Revenue. Due to the fragile economy, delayed refunds, and various other issues, exports in January recorded a reduction of 3.4% to $1.96 billion. “Attracting foreign funds with high-interest rates can be repatriated any time that will unleash another crisis in Pakistan, therefore many economic exports are warning against this policy, Butt remarked. President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), Mian Zahid Hussain indicated the crucial need for revising the IMF conditions. The strict IMF terms should not be a major vulnerability to the economy of the country, he added. Although IMF program has diminished current account deficit and reinforced forex reserves yet, it has affected the growth rate, business, employment, and production. The IMF reports to increase taxes are practically disturbing, Zahid Hussain shared. He noted that the growth rate has already been fallen to 60% to get $ 6 billion which resulted in unemployment and increased liquidation. Mian Zahid Hussain further said, “After the IMF deal, Rupee saw record erosion in its value but it hasn’t helped to improve the exports as expected while the public debt rose to unsustainable levels.”
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