The provisional GDP growth rate for Pakistan in the outgoing financial year 2022-23 remained disappointing, standing at 0.29 percent.
This figure is in stark contrast to the revised growth rate of 6.1 percent in the previous financial year 2021-22. The actual GDP growth for the current fiscal year falls significantly short of the original target of 5 percent, settling at a meager positive growth of 0.29 percent.
This lackluster growth is expected to lead to increased poverty and unemployment, although official figures for these indicators are not yet available. In terms of rupee value, the size of the GDP for the outgoing fiscal year was Rs38.927 trillion, slightly higher than Rs38.814 trillion in the previous financial year.
According to Dr. Nadeem Javaid, the Chief Economist of the Planning Commission, factors such as devastating floods, political instability, the global recession, and the Ukraine war have exacerbated Pakistan’s economic challenges. However, the resilience displayed by various sectors of the economy has resulted in slight positive growth for the current fiscal year.
The National Accounts Committee (NAC), chaired by Secretary Planning Syed Zafar Ali Shah, approved the provisional GDP growth rate of 0.29 percent. The agriculture sector achieved a growth rate of 1.55 percent, while the industrial sector contracted with a negative growth rate of -2.94 percent.
The services sector experienced positive growth of 0.86 percent. There were allegations of significant pressure on officials from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) and other authorities to turn the GDP growth from negative to positive. The initial negative growth trajectory was gradually adjusted to a positive figure of 0.29 percent after extensive deliberations among officials from the Ministry of Finance, State Bank of Pakistan, and Ministry of Planning. Notably, the education sector witnessed a growth rate of 10.44 percent, raising some eyebrows, and human health and social work-related activities unexpectedly achieved 8.49 percent growth in the current fiscal year.
Within the agriculture sector, the growth of important crops remained negative at -2.49 percent, but the production of wheat, reaching 27.6 million tons, contributed to the sector’s positive growth. However, cotton production only reached 4.5 million bales, experiencing a negative growth of 41 percent. The livestock sector achieved positive growth of 3.78 percent. In the industrial sector, large-scale manufacturing (LSM) contracted by -7.98 percent, while small-scale manufacturing showed positive growth of 9.03 percent. The construction sector experienced negative growth of -5.53 percent. Electricity generation and gas distribution achieved positive growth of 6.03 percent, raising some concerns. The services sector recorded positive growth of 0.86 percent, but wholesale and retail trade saw negative growth of -4.46 percent. When asked about potential pressure on the PBS to achieve positive growth figures, Dr. Naeem Uz Zafar, the PBS Chief, stated that there was no pressure from any side, and the calculations were conducted professionally to determine the provisional growth figures.
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