PTI's New Economic Team Line-Up in Pakistan

Who are the members of Pakistan's top new economic leadership team? Who's Reza Baqir? Who's Shabbar Zaidi? Why were the changes necessary? Were the latest changes made to remove previous PMLN government's loyalists considered to be responsible for the current economic crisis? Did their policies and actions contribute to large twin deficits? Did the International Monetary Fund (IMF) force these changes as a condition for the country's bailout?

Pakistan's External Debt. Source: Wall Street Journal

Pakistan Current Account Deficit. Source: State Bank of Pakistan

As Pakistan awaits the news of the discovery of large offshore oil reserves, what lessons should Pakistan learn from the governance failures in Venezuela? Is Venezuela suffering because of its government's hostility toward the United States? Will large oil reserves be a panacea for Pakistan's economic problems?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Sabahat Ashraf (ifaqeer) and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/1UucUo_eU90




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistan's Debt Crisis

Can Pakistan Avoid Recurring IMF Bailouts?

Expectation of Massive Offshore Oil Discovery in Pakistan

CPEC Financing: Is China Ripping Off Pakistan?

Information Tech Jobs Moving From India to Pakistan

Pakistan is 5th Largest Motorcycle Market

"Failed State" Pakistan Saw 22% Growth in Per Capita Income in Last 5 Years

CPEC Transforming Pakistan

Pakistan's $20 Billion Tourism Industry Boom

Home Appliance Ownership in Pakistani Households

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Workers’ #remittances to #Pakistan up 8.4% to $17.8 billion in 10 months. #Remittances from #Pakistani diaspora in #UnitedStates rose at the fastest rate at 21.8% year-on-year to $2.786 billion in the July-April period of FY2019 https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/469561-workers-remittances-up-8-4pc-to-17-8bln-in-10-months

Workers’ remittances grew 8.45 percent year-on-year to $17.875 billion in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year as foreign inflows from all the key countries continued to show growth during the period, the central bank's data showed on Friday.


Remittances, which are one of the country’s major sources of foreign currency, amounted to $16.481 billion during the corresponding period a year earlier.

Though overseas workers sent more money home during the period under review than a year ago growth slowed to single digit since March 2019 amid below-than-expected inflows from Saudi Arabia and the gulf countries, the major sources of remittances.

The State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) data showed that the highest percentage growth was witnessed from the US as remittances from the country rose 21.81 percent year-on-year to $2.786 billion in the July-April period of FY2019. Remittances from the UK increased 16.61 percent to $2.755 billion. Remittances from Saudi Arabia rose 2.08 percent to $4.175 billion. The country received $3.786 billion from UAE, including Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah during the July-April period, up 4.04 percent over the corresponding period a year earlier. Remittances from other Gulf Cooperation Council countries including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman, however, fell 5.39 percent to $1.717 billion in the first 10 months.

Home remittances contributed to more than six percent to GDP, equivalent to 85 percent of the country’s exports and more than one-third of imports during the last fiscal year of 2017/18.

The government and the central bank have taken a number of initiatives to promote transfer of home remittances using formal financial channels.

Analysts said blockchain technology-based remittance service – known as digital ledger – would complement the efforts as transfer of cross-border remittances in near real time would bring convenience and facilitation for both remitters and their beneficiaries. Remittances fuel consumer spending and foster the central bank’s foreign exchange reserves.

The country needs to attract more remittance flows due to dwindling foreign currency reserves and higher foreign debt payments. The foreign exchange reserves held by the SBP stood at $8.984 billion as of May 3 compared with $8.805 billion in the previous week.

The government expected financing gap to reach $10 to $11 billion in the next fiscal year of 2019/20 with a new economic assistance program from the International Monetary Fund likely to provide cushion to anemic balance of payment position.

In April, inflow of workers’ remittances stood at $1.778 billion, which was two percent higher than the previous month and six percent up compared to the corresponding month a year earlier, according to the SBP’s official data.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan agrees to 13th bailout in 30 years from the IMF

https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/13/asia/pakistan-khan-imf-intl/index.html

"Pakistan is facing a challenging economic environment, with lackluster growth, elevated inflation, high indebtedness, and a weak external position," IMF representative Ernesto Ramirez Rigo said in statement.
"This reflects the legacy of uneven and procyclical economic policies in recent years aiming to boost growth, but at the expense of rising vulnerabilities and lingering structural and institutional weaknesses. The authorities recognize the need to address these challenges, as well as to tackle the large informality in the economy, the low spending in human capital, and poverty."

Khan met with IMF director Christine Lagarde in February, as he sought to secure funding from the agency despite being a longterm critic of its previous dealings in Pakistan.
The IMF has been criticized in the past for imposing strict austerity on receiver nations, forcing governments to cut social programs and privatize national industries.
Khan has spoken of the need for a major anti-poverty program to boost Pakistan's economy and help its worst off citizens, but this will involve considerable spending that is typically antithetical to the conservative IMF.
These types of restrictions are one of the reasons Khan has been publicly attempting to avoid returning to the IMF to seek more funding. In October, Saudi Arabia agreed to advance Islamabad $6 billion in financial support. But that has not been enough to plug the gaps in Pakistan's economy -- issues Khan inherited and has been struggling to get under control.
The Pakistani Prime Minister has also turned to China for help. Beijing has invested heavily in the country under President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative.
"I can tell you one thing, the Chinese have been a breath of fresh air for us ... They have been extremely helpful to us," Khan said earlier this year.
China's increasing presence in Pakistan has not been without incident, however. On Sunday, militants attacked a five-star luxury hotel in Gwadar, in Balochistan province. The city is at the center of China's multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road infrastructure project.
Five people were killed in the attack, for which a Pakistani separatist group claimed responsibility, warning of more attacks in China and Pakistan in a post on an unverified Twitter account. CNN could not independently confirm whether the account, which claims to belong to the Baolchistan Liberation Army, is authentic.
Riaz Haq said…
Foreign #investors return to #Karachi #Stock Exchange in #Pakistan with the purchase of $6.9 million of shares yesterday, the second-biggest single-day purchase this year, after the country secures a new #IMF loan. #economy #PTI #KSE100 https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-14/local-pessimism-on-pakistan-stocks-lingers-as-foreigners-return via @markets

Overseas funds returned to Pakistani stocks on Monday after the nation secured a $6 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, even as domestic investors fueled the market’s biggest decline this year.

Foreigners bought $6.9 million of shares yesterday, the second-biggest single-day purchase this year. That’s as the benchmark KSE-100 Index fell 2.4% at close, the most in more than five months.

Foreigners “will welcome the loan’s conditions, which mean that policy is going to stay on a credible and reformist path,” said Hasnain Malik, head of equity strategy at Dubai-based Tellimer. The loan “improves foreign investor confidence,” he said.

The agreement with the IMF comes after a sixth-month period that saw rating companies downgrading Pakistan’s credit score and stocks hitting a three-year low. The slump has left the KSE-100 Index trading at a price-to-book ratio of 1.1, the lowest reading in at least a decade, according to Malik.


Riaz Haq said…
Why #IMF bailout? #Pakistan #economy was in crisis when #ImranKhan took office in 2018. Forex reserves plunged by 50% to $7 billion last year, and government was running current-account and budget #deficits of over 5% of #GDP. #PMLN #PTI https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-13/why-pakistan-needs-yet-another-imf-bailout-quicktake via @bpolitics

Will this time be different?
Time will tell. Khan has overhauled his economic team, including the installation in May of Reza Baqir, who previously served in senior positions at the IMF, as the central bank governor. His predecessor was fired along with the chief of the tax-collection agency over their “performance.” Khan also appointed Abdul Hafeez Shaikh as his finance adviser after forcing Asad Umar to resign in a cabinet shuffle in April. Much will depend on how successful the new team is in implementing the IMF’s loan conditions and whether measures like higher taxes and energy prices will hurt the prime minister’s political standing.

Does Pakistan have other options?
Khan has also secured $3 billion in financing each from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and China. China has been playing a bigger role in Pakistan’s economy, financing billions of dollars of power and road projects as part of its Belt and Road program, funding that typically doesn’t come with the kind of strings attached to IMF loans. In his visit to Pakistan earlier this year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman pledged $20 billion in investment in Pakistan, including in an oil refinery, although no agreements have been signed yet.
Riaz Haq said…
Overseas funds returned to Pakistani stocks on Monday after the nation secured a $6 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, even as domestic investors fueled the market’s biggest decline this year.

Foreigners bought $6.9 million of shares yesterday, the second-biggest single-day purchase this year. That’s as the benchmark KSE-100 Index fell 2.4% at close, the most in more than five months.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-14/local-pessimism-on-pakistan-stocks-lingers-as-foreigners-return

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