Pakistan was already passing through the fiscal constraints even before the onset of COVID-19 health and economic challenges. Pakistan’s nationwide tally of Covid-19 stands at 96,519 with over 35,300 cases in Punjab, 36,364 in Sindh, 13,001 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 6,221 in Balochistan, 927 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 4,323 in Islamabad and 375 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The alarming figures of COVID-19 cases are not only causing health crisis but also causing myriads of problems for mankind: unemployment is one of them. Pakistan’s Finance Ministry says that an estimated 3 million people associated with the industrial and services sectors of the country are expected to lose their jobs, and the poverty level could rise to 33.5 percent from the current 24.3 percent due to the pandemic.
Unemployment in the services sector, and the industrial sector
The Finance Ministry informed the upper house of the parliament (senate) that the services sector is likely to lose over 2 million jobs, whereas the industrial sector may lose one million jobs due to economic constraints amid coronavirus pandemic.
Pakistan’s Export and Remittances
The Ministry further said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s exports were expected to reduce to $21-$22 billion due to a slump in global economic activity and low commodity prices. Before the pandemic, exports amounted to $25.5 billion. Moreover, remittances are also expected to decline from the targeted $23 billion to $20-$21 billion.
Prior to the pandemic, the GDP growth was expected to be 3.24 percent, which has now reduced to -0.4 percent during the ongoing fiscal year, a Chinese news agency quoted the Ministry as saying.
Pakistan’s Ministry of Planning has projected that the unemployment rate will further jump to 9.6% with 850,000 more people becoming unemployed by the end of the third year of the PTI government.
According to official figures of the Ministry of Planning and Development, the unemployment rate was 5.8% at the end of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Government. It has now jumped to 8.53% by end of the current fiscal year 2019-20 which is the second year of the PTI-led government.
Planning Ministry noted that the prospects for economic growth were eclipsed by higher inflation and interest rates, negative LSM growth, weaker exports, sluggish resource mobilization, and IMF loan-related conditionalities even before the events of the Covid-19 pandemic.