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Climate change risks may cut Pakistan’s GDP 18-20% by 2050: World Bank

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  • Up to 9% of GDP will likely be lost due to climate change.
  • Irrigation water shortages may dent GDP by over 4.6%.
  • Air pollution could impose a 6.5% per year loss of GDP. 

ISLAMABAD: Increasing climate change risks could contract Pakistan’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate significantly in the next 28 years, a World Bank report revealed recently.

“The combined risks from the intensification of climate change and environmental degradation, unless addressed, will further aggravate Pakistan’s economic fragility; and could ultimately reduce annual GDP by 18-20% per year by 2050, based on the optimistic and pessimistic scenarios,” a report recently published by the World Bank said.

Between 6.5% and 9% of GDP will likely be lost due to climate change (in the optimistic and pessimistic scenarios, respectively) as increased floods and heatwaves reduce agriculture and livestock yields, destroy infrastructure, sap labour productivity, and undermine health, the report added.

Additionally, water shortages in agriculture could reduce GDP by more than 4.6%, and air pollution could impose a loss of 6.5% of GDP per year.

The use of water for non-agricultural purposes is likely to increase significantly with climate change. 

Under a high-growth (4.9% per year) and high-warming (3°C by 2047) scenario, water demand is projected to increase by almost 60%, with the highest rates of the increase coming from the domestic and industrial sectors, the report said.

It added that climate warming would account for up to 15% of this increase in demand. This heightened demand will result in unintended consequences that deprive downstream areas of water rights. The competition among sectors will necessitate inter-sectoral tradeoffs that will likely be made at the expense of water for agriculture.

It is projected that, in the next three decades, about 10% of all irrigation water will need to be repurposed to meet non-agricultural demand. 

Freeing up 10% of irrigation water without compromising food security will be a complex challenge that will require substantial policy reforms to incentivise water conservation and increase water use efficiency in the agricultural sector and a shift away from water-thirsty crops as well as better environmental management.

The projected costs of a forced reallocation of water out of agriculture, to meet non-agriculture demands, without such steps, could reduce GDP in 2047 by 4.6%. 

The losses projected here are thus the costs of forced reallocation of water to serve other urgent needs, including allocations for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and urgent environmental flows to sustain critical ecosystem services.

Damage induced by climate-related extreme events will likely have economy-wide impacts on growth, fiscal space, employment, and poverty. 

Global warming and extreme events affect economic activity through multiple transmission channels: impacts on lives, infrastructure and assets, and livelihoods, which can result in lost economic growth, worsening poverty and longer-term threats to human capital and productivity. 

Existing macro models can help assess the expected scale of such events.

The report added that household poverty is expected to decline over time, but even a 9% decline in GDP by 2050 is enough to stall poverty reduction, with disproportionate impacts on rural households.

By 2030, the urban poverty rate is expected to be half that of rural areas. By 2050, urban poverty is projected to decline further, to 10%, while rural poverty remains in the 25–28% range.

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“Ready to work with Pakistan’s new government,” the IMF said.

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In response to the former premier’s request, IMF Director of Communications Julie Kozak stated, “I’m not going to comment on ongoing political developments,” during a news conference.

She continued by saying that they “look forward to working on policies to ensure macroeconomic stability and prosperity for all of Pakistan’s citizens with the new government.”

In addition to stating that the plan is “supporting the authority’s efforts to stabilise the economy and to, of course, with a strong focus on protecting the most vulnerable,” Kozack said the lender increased the total disbursements under the Standby Arrangement (SBA) to $1.9 billion.

This has been accomplished by closely adhering to budgetary constraints and safeguarding the social safety net. In order to keep foreign exchange reserves growing and rein in inflation, a strict monetary policy stance has been maintained, the speaker stated.

The PTI founding chairman decided to write a letter to the international lender, asking it to demand an audit of the election held on February 8 before it proceeds with discussions with Islamabad for a new loan programme. This move prompted the IMF to release its statement.

In response to the former premier’s request, IMF Director of Communications Julie Kozak stated, “I’m not going to comment on ongoing political developments,” during a news conference.

She continued by saying that they “look forward to working on policies to ensure macroeconomic stability and prosperity for all of Pakistan’s citizens with the new government.”

In addition to stating that the plan is “supporting the authority’s efforts to stabilise the economy and to, of course, with a strong focus on protecting the most vulnerable,” Kozack said the lender increased the total disbursements under the Standby Arrangement (SBA) to $1.9 billion.

This has been accomplished by closely adhering to budgetary constraints and safeguarding the social safety net. In order to keep foreign exchange reserves growing and rein in inflation, a strict monetary policy stance has been maintained, the speaker stated.

The PTI founding chairman decided to write a letter to the international lender, asking it to demand an audit of the election held on February 8 before it proceeds with discussions with Islamabad for a new loan programme. This move prompted the IMF to release its statement.

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In a new IMF agreement, Pakistan would “raise” the FBR tax-to-GDP ratio to 15%.

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The state bank reserves will be maintained at a level equivalent to three months’ worth of import bills, according to sources in the Finance Ministry.

According to sources, the ministry has also set a goal to maintain the primary balance surplus and reduce the current account deficit.

The ministry insisted that once the existing agreement expires, a new one would be negotiated with the IMF, and that the IMF will also be guaranteed that the requirements will be implemented prior to the agreement being finalised.

The founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) demanded that an audit of the election results be conducted before the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved any additional loans for Islamabad. However, the IMF showed earlier today that it was eager to cooperate with the new administration in Pakistan by disregarding the demand.

According to Bloomberg News yesterday, Pakistan is to apply for a fresh $6 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to assist the next government in paying off billions of dollars in debt that comes due this year.

According to the article, the nation would attempt to negotiate an Extended Fund Facility with the IMF, and it was anticipated that discussions with the international lender would begin in March or April.

Thanks to a short-term IMF bailout, Pakistan avoided defaulting last summer. However, the plan expires next month, and the next administration will need to negotiate a long-term deal to keep the $350 billion economy steady.

The IMF forced the South Asian country to enact a number of reforms prior to the rescue, including raising its benchmark interest rate, changing its budget, and raising the cost of natural gas and electricity.

According to a fund spokeswoman, the IMF staff is still in communication with authorities on the necessary longer-term reform initiatives. The fund is also prepared to assist the post-election government in addressing Pakistan’s ongoing issues by means of a new arrangement, should that request be made.

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39% increase in IT exports in January: Dr. Umar Saif

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According to Dr. Umar Saif, the acting minister for information technology and telecommunication, IT exports increased by 39.4% to $265 million in January of this year from $190 million in the same month the previous fiscal year.

The IT sector in Pakistan is expanding and breaking records. The minister wrote on X that “IT exports in January are up by 39.4% to $265 million, compared to $190 million in the same month in 2023.”

The minister also revealed that IT exports to the United States over the first seven months of the current fiscal year (July–January) were $1.7 billion, up 13 percent from $1.5 billion in the same time previous year.

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