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Editorial | The Grim State Of The Economy Under Naya Pakistan

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As we enter the New Year, there is little to celebrate in Pakistan. 2019 has been a rough year – not just for the state of democracy and rights in the country, but also for the basic economic existence of many.

Some sobering facts are in order here: the rupee depreciated 35% against the US dollar in the financial year 2019. In November, the key interest rate was at 13.25% – one of the highest ever experienced by this country. The rate of inflation is currently 12.7%. There has been a very real economic slowdown under such conditions.

These are not mere figures. They represent real-life consequences for millions in the country. In fact, the total number of people living in poverty will rise from 69 million in June 2018 to 87 million by June 2020. That is to say that another 18 million people will have slipped below the poverty line in first two years of the current government.

Under such economic conditions, the primary response of the ruling party has been to point to improvements in the balance of payments situation. The health of the economy – and the livelihoods of people – however, do not depend on this or that indicator alone. They rely on an overall vision for sustainable growth, the ability to attract investment on favourable terms and convincing both the local and international business community of the stability of policy and polity alike.

To believe that the PTI government is currently succeeding in all of this requires one to be a fierce partisan of the ruling party. For anyone else, the outlook is grim and the light at the end of the tunnel – if any at all – may well be nothing but an oncoming train.

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