This is apropos a Business Recorder op-ed “Impact of Covid-19 on South Asia” carried by the newspaper yesterday. That the writer, Dr Hafiz A Pasha, has the ability to always look at the bigger picture there is no doubt about it; not only is he prolific, he’s also accurate insofar as the field of economics and finance is concerned. In this article, he seems to have set off alarm bells by arguing that “the pandemic has taken the South Asian region back by almost two years. Poverty and unemployment have increased exponentially. Unfortunately, no regional initiative could be taken due to the dormancy of SAARC. India has the buffer of relatively large foreign exchange reserves. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal have already accessed the Rapid Financing Facility of the IMF for $1.4 billion, $732million and $214 million respectively. More support may be required from international agencies if the negative impact on exports and remittances is bigger and lasts longer.”
I would like to make a point through my letter to this newspaper’s editor: In the case of Pakistan, for example, a global rating agency has already projected a big fall in workers’ remittances. Exports of August have already recorded a decline, although adviser to prime minister Imran Khan Razzak Dawood is optimistic about export prospects for September and beyond. In my view, however, Pakistan’s performance against the Covid-19 challenge is the silver lining for its people, as they escaped comparatively less scathed compared to others in the region.
HINA KHAN (LAHORE)
Copyright Business Recorder, 2020