Pakistan among slowest growing South Asian countries: Daily

June 4th, 2011 - 12:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, June 4 (IANS) Pakistan is now among the slowest growing South Asian countries, said a leading daily as it noted that “India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are forging ahead”.

An editorial in the Dawn Saturday said: “The outgoing fiscal was yet another year of uphill economic struggle for the vast majority of Pakistanis due to decelerating growth and rising prices. Investment dried up, unemployment escalated and poverty increased.”

“Ranked as the third-fastest expanding Asian economy after China and India in the middle of the last decade, Pakistan is now among the slowest growing South Asian countries,” the Dawn said.

“India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are forging ahead.”

The daily said that the country’s economy is expected to expand by 2.4 percent this year as the region is projected to grow by 8.7 percent and the world’s developing nations by 6.5 percent.

“Even many African economies have out-performed us in recent years”, says the Economic Survey for 2010-11 released Thursday.

“Deteriorating security conditions, flood losses, rising global oil prices, stalled external capital flows and delays in fiscal and tax reforms are the main culprits that have slowed growth and strained the government’s resources, leading to a huge build-up in domestic and foreign public debt for financing the budget.”

But there are some positives.

“Exports have increased on the back of higher commodity prices. An additional income of Rs.342 billion has been transferred to the rural economy during one year alone, compared to Rs.329 billion during 2001-08. The exchange rate remains stable and inflation is down to 13 percent from 25 percent in October 2008,” the editorial said.

It went on to say that the government has taken “several tough and politically unpopular decisions like reducing untargetted food and energy subsidies…(and has) pledged to move ahead with its plans to eliminate subsidies, bring the powerful into the tax net, prudently manage its debt, revamp public-sector companies and limit its inflationary borrowings”.

“Recovery remains fragile, but it can give space to launch the country on the path of growth. If the reform agenda is implemented honestly and boldly, we can move faster in our race with other South Asian economies,” it added.

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