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Print

‘Economic recovery continues despite challenges’

  • Healthy revenue growth, improved manufacturing and agricultural output boost growth
Published August 13, 2022
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KARACHI: Pakistan’s economic recovery continued in the first half of fiscal year 2022 (H1FY22) due to healthy revenue growth, improved manufacturing and agricultural output.

According to Half Year Report for FY22 on the State of Pakistan’s Economy, released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Friday, from the perspective of first half FY22, the large-scale manufacturing (LSM) exhibited broad-based expansion; exports grew buoyant alongside growth in FBR taxes; and Kharif crops recorded higher production. However, amid multi-year high global commodity prices, rising inflation and current account deficit posed a challenge as the year progressed.

These pressures necessitated monetary tightening amid other regulatory measures to moderate demand, the report said.

With the analysis prepared on data outturns for the July-December FY22, the report states that improved Covid conditions, alongside the government’s vigorous vaccination drive, paved way for largely uninterrupted economic activities. In addition, fiscal measures, including tax cuts on certain sectors and expansion in federal and provincial development spending, coupled with higher non-interest current expenditures supplemented economic growth.

The lagged impact of favourable monetary conditions of FY21 along with the SBP’s concessionary financing schemes; and an accommodative policy environment at the start of FY22 also facilitated economic activities and capacity expansion.

Accordingly, the LSM witnessed a broad-based increase in H1-FY22 where 16 out of 22 LSM sectors recorded output growth. However, a rise of 9.7% in Q1 FY22 outweighed a relatively moderate growth of 5.5% in Q2.

In agriculture sector, output in Kharif season was primarily driven by record production in rice and sugarcane crops. Cotton production also increased over last year mainly due to favorable weather conditions.

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Private sector credit grew nearly fourfold in H1-FY22 on year-on-year basis. This was mainly on the back of working capital requirements that rose due to increased domestic demand, higher exports, as well as the global commodity price hike and ensuing jump in domestic wholesale prices during H1FY22.

The expansion in economic activities was also visible in the demand for loans for fixed investments and consumer financing, albeit the latter experienced a policy-induced moderation in the second quarter.

The report notes that soaring global commodity prices, coupled with growing domestic demand, especially for industrial inputs, resulted in a widening of the current account deficit, despite double-digit growth in workers’ remittances to $15.8 billion in H1-FY22. Exports grew considerably in the first half, notwithstanding some deceleration in the second quarter. Both higher unit prices and export volumes contributed to export growth with a $3.4 billion year-on-year increase in H1-FY22 to $15.2 billion – which is highest ever half-yearly export outturn.

However, despite slightly slower import momentum in the second quarter, the increase in H1-FY22 imports was nearly four times the increase in exports. In addition to the dominant role of global commodity price hike, import growth was led by elevated demand for raw materials and capital goods; Covid-19 vaccine procurement; and the continued need to import wheat and sugar to plug domestic supply gaps, the report said.

Amid a widening current account deficit, the market-determined exchange rate depreciated by 10.7% in the interbank market during H1FY22. However, the SBP’s FX reserves remained relatively stable till the end of H1FY22, supported by $1 billion inflow from Eurobond issuance, the additional SDR allocation of $2.8 billion from the IMF in Q1, and bilateral deposits of $3 billion from Saudi Arabia in Q2.

The report added that the confluence of costlier imported commodities (such as edible oil and pulses) and some demand-side pressures pushed national CPI inflation into double digits during H1FY22, as spike in non-perishable food prices more than offset the decrease in the prices of perishable food items. The increase in global commodity prices also led to upward adjustments in administered prices of petrol, LPG, and electricity.

The strength of the economy, the broad-based inflationary pressures and the widening of the current account deficit necessitated a cumulative increase of 275 basis points in the policy rate during H1FY22. This was aimed at ensuring sustainability in both economic growth and the external account, as well as anchoring inflation expectations. In addition, additional measures, such as increase in cash reserve requirements and tightening of prudential regulations, were taken to moderate demand pressures.

On the fiscal side, the overall deficit remained unchanged in H1FY22 at last year’s level of 2.1% of GDP. However, the primary balance narrowed to 0.1% of GDP in H1FY22, from 0.6% in the same period last year, as the increase in non-interest expenditures more than offset the robust rise in tax revenues.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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