IMF projects 3.25% growth for Pak in 2012-13
Washington: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected Pakistan's growth at 3.25 percent in 2012-13, which it said is insufficient to achieve significant improvement in living standards and to absorb the rising labour force.
"Real GDP growth over the past four years has averaged only about 3 percent annually, and is projected to be about 3.25 percent in 2012-13, insufficient to achieve significant improvement in living standards and to absorb the rising labour force," the IMF said in its report on Pakistan.
Noting that Pakistan's economy faces many challenges, the IMF said deep seated structural problems and weak macroeconomic policies have continued to sap the economy's vigour.
A key structural impediment to growth is the problems in the energy sector, which have resulted in widespread and unpredictable power outages, IMF said.
"Headline inflation has decelerated recently, but is likely to return to low double digits by the end of 2012-13. The external position has weakened substantially, as export growth turned negative in 2011-12 while imports grew," the IMF said.
The financial account has also deteriorated, reflecting weak financial inflows and debt repayments.
This has led to a decline in the State Bank of Pakistan's (SBP) foreign exchange reserves to under USD 10 billion in October 2012, below adequate levels, it said.
Noting that while some progress has been made, the IMF Executive Board said Pakistan continues to face difficult macroeconomic challenges as growth remains insufficient, underlying inflation is high, and the external position is weakening.
"The situation is compounded by an uncertain global environment and a difficult domestic situation, as well as adverse effects of natural disasters.
Directors emphasised that strong policy measures and deeper reforms are critical to addressing vulnerabilities, boosting sustainable growth, and reducing poverty," the report said.
To achieve the government's 2012-13 deficit target, the IMF Executive Board in its assessment called for short-term revenue and expenditure efforts, including broadening key taxes and reducing subsidies, while protecting the most vulnerable.
"To strengthen the fiscal position in the long run and create space for capital and poverty-related spending, directors called for comprehensive revenue and expenditure reforms. Fiscal consolidation should focus on changes in tax policy and improvements in compliance," the IMF said.