Dr. Salman Shah (Advisor to Punjab Government): Pakistan Economic Survey 2020-21 is a testament of the stabilizationpolicies of the government for economic revival. A number of economic indicators have shown improvement despite the challenging environment of Covid-19. Growth has been witnessed in agriculture, services and other sectors while interest rate has come down. GDP of around 4% is a good achievement and the government is determined to take it to 7% next year. It was a good year for exports and stock markets and the share of Foreign Direct Investment and local investments has increased. Government has paid special attention to construction, IT, agriculture and exports sectors that will further boost the economy. Overall, the economic situation in Pakistan is getting better with the time. Punjab government is contributing to the economic revival and this year division-wise development will be reviewed. There are nine divisions in Punjab and each division will be taken care of in accordance with its strength. Chief Minister’s District Development Program is being launched that will support infrastructure development in every division. Schools have been upgraded and health cards distributed in every district.
Dr. Shahid Hassan Siddiqui (Economist): Government claimed to achieve the GDP growth rate up to 3.94% till the end of the year, but in my opinion the GDP will be higher. In the last three years of the incumbent government, foreign remittances have increased to nine billion dollars more than 2018. Another achievement of the incumbent government is in current account deficit that has turned into surplus. However, trade deficit and the inflation rate have increased that must be taken care of. Exports have touched to 53 billion dollars and the value of rupee against the dollar is constantly improving. Government must work to minimize the circular debt. Smart lockdown policy of the government helped in creating balance between staying safe from Covid-19 and continuing business activities.
Dr. Abid Qayyum Sulehri (Economist): IMF predicted the GDP growth rate of Pakistan to 1.5%, and the government had itself expected the economy to grow by 2.1% this year. The prediction of State Bank of Pakistan was around 3% whereas the actual figure as per the economic survey is 3.94%, which is a great achievement. This became possible because of the policies of the government during smart lockdown. Role of NCOC in this regard cannot be ignored. The suggestions of the NCOC supported not only to contain Covid-19 impact, but also created an enabling environment for safe business activities. The exports, sales of automobiles, and production have witnessed increase. Imports, especially of food, increased sharply this year, putting significant burden on the balance of trade.
Rahimullah Yusufzai (Expert on Afghan Affairs): Afghanistan is situated between central and south Asia but the instability in Afghanistan for the last four decades has badly affected the connectivity and growth rate of the countries in the region. It is a fact that peace and stability in the region is linked with peace and stability in Afghanistan. The stakeholders are making utmost efforts to ensure a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. However, the outcome of intra-Afghan dialogue is awaited and we must hope for the best. The United States is leaving Afghanistan after a period of almost two decades. The post-withdrawal scenario will be crucial. The Doha peace agreement should be followed in true letter and spirit. Pakistan is the immediate neighbour of Afghanistan and has always supported an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. There is a need to keep a close eye on peace-spoilers and such elements must be dealt with iron hands.