IT has officially been acknowledged that 2021-22 has been one of the toughest years in the history of the country as we missed almost all economic targets in the face of a host of internal and external factors. The Economic Survey 2022-23 conceded that the government failed to achieve all macroeconomic targets, including GDP growth rate, inflation, per capita income, fiscal slippages, public debt, exports, investment and savings. The pre-budget documents released by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar showed that the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the fiscal year 2023 — projected to grow at 5 per cent — only managed 0.3pc growth, with agriculture and services scraping along with 1.5pc and 0.86pc growth and the industrial sector contracting by a worrying 3pc.
The country might have missed economic targets but the very fact that the incumbent government was able to manage affairs in the backdrop of an unprecedented hostile environment is an achievement itself. It is known to all that the economy was jolted throughout the year by continued political turmoil and the resultant weak governance; externally and internally driven factors that led to unusual increase in the cost of production and cost of living; pressure tactics by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and colossal damages inflicted on economy by incessant rains and floods. These challenges not only hampered external flows but also affected internal revenue collection and the resource constraints meant more difficulties for the people and the national economy in terms of a slowdown in growth and lack of employment opportunities. It is also a fact that the present government had paid a very heavy political cost while taking ‘tough measures’ to restore international confidence, which included increasing petroleum, gas and electricity prices, imposing fresh taxes, withdrawing subsidies, and introducing an austerity policy. It is, however, satisfying that the country has a professional team of planners and economic managers with demonstrated ability to deliver and it was because of this that despite various odds the country avoided default and successfully narrowed down the current account deficit. It is also encouraging that there is a concrete plan for revival of the economy with or without the aid of the IMF, which is also reflected by the targets set for the next financial year. It is hoped that all stakeholders and all segments of the society would contribute their share in overcoming the challenges and putting the economy back on track in the next financial year.