2019 A year of economic ups and downs.


Byline: Imran Ali Kundi

ISLAMABAD -- The top leadership of the government is claiming to achieve the economic stabilisation in year 2019, while the independent economic experts and masses believe that government's policies had slowed down the business activities and increased the inflation rate to highest level in nine years.

Economic managers of the government believe they achieved economic stabilisation after averting the possible default. The government had successfully controlled the soaring current account deficit, trade deficit, and budget deficit in the second half of 2019. Similarly, it built reserves by taking new loans, increased number of tax filers and slightly enhanced exports of the country. However, the government failed to control the increasing inflation rate, achieving tax collection targets. It allowed the local currency to depreciate to record level.

On the other hand, business community remained annoyed with economic policies of the incumbent government. Leading businessmen of the country reposed their confidence in Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa as they complained of a dismal economic situation and sought solution of their problems. Similarly, common people also faced increasing inflation rate that touched 9 years high level due to impact of higher energy prices and currency depreciation. Some reports suggested that Pakistan was in stagflation - a condition in which the economic growth rate is slow while unemployment and prices of goods and services are high.

To achieve the economic stabilisation, the PTI government was forced to replace its economic wizard, Asad Umar with Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, who assumed the charge of Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue. The government also changed the heads of central bank and tax department to achieve the desired results. The government had appointed Dr Reza Baqir, a long-time economist with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). Meanwhile, Syed Shabbar Zaidi, a Karachi-based partner in the chartered accounting firm A.F. Ferguson, was appointed as new chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

In January 2019, the PTI government presented its second mini-budget for last fiscal year in National Assembly, dubbing it as an economic reforms package which was needed to fix the economy. The mini budget carried encouraging tax measures for small and medium enterprises, agriculture, housing, print media industry...

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