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IMF cuts Pakistan’s GDP growth rate to 0.5% for FY23

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  • IMF says CAD to clock in at 2.3% in FY23 and 2.4% in FY24.
  • Close to 90% of advanced economies will experience slowing growth.
  • Most countries will avoid a recession in current fiscal year.

As the economic situation remains gloomy, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) slashed Pakistan’s real GDP growth rate projection from 2% to 0.5% for the current fiscal year.

In the latest World Economic Outlook (WEO) report released on Tuesday, the IMF forecast that the country’s GDP growth rate would be 3.5% in fiscal year 2024. In its last report issued in January, the lender had downgraded the growth projection to 2% from 3.5%.

The IMF report forecast that inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), would be recorded around 27.1% in FY23 and fall to 21.9% in FY24.

Meanwhile, the current account deficit (CAD) was forecast to clock in at 2.3% and 2.4% in FY23 and FY24, respectively.

The IMF’s downgrading comes days after the World Bank and Asian Development Bank lowered Pakistan’s growth rate projections to 0.4% and 0.6%, respectively.

The country’s economy has been struggling to recover, with inflation at a decades-high level and several companies shutting down or reducing operations citing the economic situation. The delay in the release of an economic bailout by the IMF is adding to the uncertain situation. 

Global situation

The international lender lowered its outlook for the global economy as well, while predicting that most countries would avoid a recession this year despite economic and geopolitical concerns.

The IMF predicted the global economy would grow by 2.8% this year and 3% in 2024, a decline of 0.1% from its previous forecasts in January.

“The global economy is recovering from the shocks of the last few years, and particularly of course the pandemic, but also the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” IMF chief economist Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas said in a press briefing ahead of the report’s release.

The leadership of the World Bank and IMF hope to use this year’s spring meetings to promote an ambitious reform and fundraising agenda.

But their efforts will likely be overshadowed by concerns among member states over high inflation, rising geopolitical tension, and financial stability.

Advanced economies drag down growth

The overall picture painted by the WEO is a gloomy one, with global growth forecast to slow in both the short and medium terms.

Close to 90% of advanced economies will experience slowing growth this year, while Asia’s emerging markets are expected to see a substantial rise in economic output — with India and China predicted to account for half of all growth, IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva said last week.

Low-income countries, meanwhile, are expected to suffer a double shock from higher borrowing costs due to high-interest rates, and a decline in demand for their exports, Georgieva said. This could worsen poverty and hunger.

The IMF expects global inflation to slow to 7% this year, down from 8.7% last year, according to the WEO forecasts.

This figure remains significantly above the 2% target set by the US Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world, suggesting monetary policymakers have a long way to go before inflation is brought back under control.

The IMF’s baseline forecasts assume that the financial instability sparked by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank last month has been broadly contained by the “forceful actions” of regulators on both sides of the Atlantic, Gourinchas told reporters.

But he added that central banks and policymakers have an important role to play to buttress financial stability going forward.

Poor productivity weighs on medium-term outlook

Looking forward, the IMF forecasts that global growth will fall to 3% in 2028, its lowest medium-term forecast since the 1990s.

Slowing population growth and the end of the era of economic catch-up by several countries including China and South Korea are a large part of the expected slowdown, as are concerns about low productivity in many countries, according to Daniel Leigh, who heads the World Economic Studies division in the IMF’s Research Department.

“A lot of the low-hanging fruit was picked,” he told reporters ahead of the publication of the World Economic Outlook.

“On top of that now, with the geopolitical tensions and fragmentation, this is going to also weigh on growth,” he said.

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Moody’s says the IMF programme will increase Pakistan’s foreign financing.

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Moody’s, a reputable international rating agency, has stated that Pakistan’s chances of acquiring funding will increase as a result of the recent agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which offers dependable sources for that purpose from both friendly countries and international financial institutions.

According to a recent Moody’s analysis on Pakistan’s economy, social unrest and tensions could result from Pakistan’s ongoing inflation. The country’s economic reforms may be hampered by increased taxes and potential changes to the energy tariff, it continued.

Moody’s, on the other hand, agrees that the coalition government headed by Shehbaz Sharif of the PML-N is in danger of failing to secure an election mandate, which may potentially undermine the successful and long-lasting execution of economic reforms.

The government’s capacity to proceed with economic changes may be hampered by societal unrest and poor governance, according to Moody’s.

In order to appease the IMF by fulfilling a prerequisite for authorising a rescue package, the government raised the basic tariff on electricity, which coincided with the most recent increase in fuel prices announced on Monday. This report was released by Moody’s.

Food costs have increased in the nation, where the vast majority is experiencing an unprecedented crisis due to the high cost of living, following the government’s earlier presentation of a budget that included a large increase in income tax for the salaried classes and the implementation of GST on commodities like milk.

The most recent comments were made following Islamabad’s achievement of a staff-level agreement for a $7 billion contract that spans 37 months and is contingent upon final approval by the IMF Executive Board.

It states that Pakistan will need foreign financing totaling about $21 billion in 2024–2025 and $23 billion in 2025–2026, meaning that the country’s present $9.4 billion in reserves won’t be sufficient to cover its needs.

Therefore, according to Moody’s, Pakistan is in an alarming position with regard to its external debt, and the next three to five years will be extremely difficult for the formulation and implementation of policies.

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Base Of bilateral relations: China And Pakistan Reiterate Their Support For CPEC

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China-Pakistan economic corridor is a major project of the Belt and Road Initiative, and both countries have reiterated their commitment to it. It remains a fundamental aspect of their bilateral relations.

Vice Chairman Zhao Chenxin of the National Development and Reform Commission of China and Minister Ahsan Iqbal of Planning and Development met in Beijing, where Ahsan Iqbal made this assurance.

The summit made clear how committed China and Pakistan are to advancing their strategic cooperative partnership in all weather conditions.

The focus of the discussion was on how the CPEC was going, with both parties reviewing project development and discussing how the agreement made at the leadership level will lead to the launch of an enhanced version of the CPEC.

In order to improve trade, connectivity, and socioeconomic growth in the area, they emphasised the need of CPEC projects.

The Ml-I Project, the KKH realignment, and the Sukkur-Hyderabad motorway—the last remaining segment of the Karachi-Peshawar motorway network—were all to be expedited.

Expanding the partnership’s horizons to include technology, innovation, education, connectivity, and renewable energy sources was another topic of discussion.

Specifically in the special economic zones being built under the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation (CPEX), Vice Chairman NDRC emphasised the possibility of China investing more in Pakistan.

In addition to expressing confidence in the ongoing success of the two nations’ collaboration, Zhao Chenxin reiterated China’s support for Pakistan’s development aspirations.

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Pakistani government raises petrol prices

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A recent announcement states that the price of petrol has increased by Rs 9.99 per litre, to Rs 275.60 per litre.

The cost of high-speed diesel has also increased significantly, rising by Rs 6.18 a litre. Diesel is now priced at Rs 283.63 a litre.

Furthermore, kerosene now costs Rs 0.83 more per gallon.

The cost of products and services is predicted to rise in response to the increase in petroleum prices, further taxing household budgets and jeopardizing the stability of the economy.

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