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Covid renders 20 million jobless in Pakistan

The Covid 19 pandemic rendered 20 million people jobless in Pakistan, but strong V-shaped recoveries in the services and manufacturing sectors helped the economy expand 3.94 percent despite much lower estimates from both the government and international lending agencies, according to Pakistan’s economic survey tabled on Thursday

Jun 10, 2021
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Jobless in Pakistan

The Covid 19 pandemic rendered 20 million people jobless in Pakistan, but strong V-shaped recoveries in the services and manufacturing sectors helped the economy expand 3.94 percent despite much lower estimates from both the government and international lending agencies, according to Pakistan’s economic survey tabled on Thursday.

Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said the working population was back to 53 million out of the total 55m labor force when the pandemic began, Geo TV reported.

He said agriculture growth stood at 2.77 percent despite large-scale losses in cotton crop, while exports went up, and remittances grew by a significant 29 percent, boosting forex reserves.

Pakistan's stock market is currently the best-performing in Asia, fourth-best in the world, said the minister.

He called power the "black hole" sector as it was overbuilt, and the government was making crippling capacity payments.

He noted that the government had itself expected the economy would grow by 2.1 percent this year, while the IMF and World Bank had released even more conservative estimates.

Nonetheless, the economy grew by a robust 3.94 percent "due to the far-sighted policies adopted by the government, which included incentivizing manufacturing, subsidizing electricity and providing assistance to the agriculture sector," Tarin said.

Tarin praises growth in remittances, saying Pakistan wants to become a food-exporting nation once again

He noted that remittances to Pakistan had broken records in the outgoing year, and had crossed the USD 26 billion mark.

However, imports, especially of food, increased sharply this year, putting a significant burden on the balance of trade.

"We were net exporters of food, but now have become net importers," he said.

He explained that due to Pakistan's increased exposure to international food markets as a result of this

(SAM)

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