KARACHI: The Second Quarterly Report on the State of Economy issued by the State Bank Of Pakistan presents a pleasant look and notable improvements.
The report, issued here on Tuesday, claims that the current account deficit contracted to a six-year low, foreign exchange reserves increased, the primary budget recorded a surplus, and core inflation eased.
Importantly, export-based manufacturing showed signs of traction and construction activities picked up, indicating that the economy was on the path of recovery.
The report says progress under the IMF program remained on track and the credit rating agencies maintained their stable outlook for Pakistan during the review period. Further improvements will require deep structural reforms to put the economy on a firm path towards sustainable growth.
In case of balance of payments, the report noted that the improvement in current account mostly stemmed from a reduction in the import bill with some contribution from export earnings. Depressed international commodity prices had partially offset the gains in export volumes offered by a competitive exchange rate. With the exception of the telecommunications sector, foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows were also about the same level as last year. The report emphasized that reforms needed to be prioritized to attract and sustain higher FDI inflows into the country.
Regarding the fiscal sector, the report noted that the primary budget recorded a surplus, while the fiscal deficit was contained during H1-FY20 compared to the same period last year. This was due to a significant growth in revenues despite a slowdown in the economy and the compression in imports. The reversal of earlier tax concessions and implementation of new levies helped increase the revenue collection. Nonetheless, the overall revenue target was missed, highlighting the scope for greater efforts to broaden the tax base and increase documentation in the economy.