Reza Baqir’s optimism


GOVERNOR State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Reza Baqir has expressed confidence that the country’s economy will grow 3% in the current fiscal year despite facing a third wave of Covid-19.

Addressing a gathering at the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) on Monday, he dilated upon different economic indicators to support his projection and hoped that the GDP will grow 4% next fiscal year.

The evidence based optimism of the SBP Governor is, of course, music to the ears of the people of Pakistan in the backdrop of recent projections of 1.5% made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and 1.3% by the World Bank.

Criticism of his appointment by some vested interests notwithstanding, the fact remains Reza Baqir has been instrumental in devising programmes and policies that are gradually restoring economic stability in the country.

This is because he had a rich and varied background of dealing with different economies of the globe during his tenure in the IMF.

This is also borne out by policies adopted by the State Bank during Covid-19 as a result of which Pakistan has the smallest increase in the debt-to-GDP ratio compared to other emerging markets during Covid-19 despite giving fiscal stimulus through the Ehsaas programme.

While the cash programme helped the poor to manage their lives during the crisis, economic and fiscal stimulus packages devised by the central bank under the guidance of Reza Baqir kept the economy afloat.

No one can dispute the fact that plans like Pakistan Remittance Initiative (PRI) and Roshan Digital Account have contributed a lot in meeting growing foreign currency needs of the country as is evident from latest reports that home remittances by Overseas Pakistanis remained strong above $2 billion for the 10th successive month in March.

Large-scale manufacturing posted a growth of 9% in January this year as against negative growth of 5.7% the same month last year.

These and similar other trends support the projection made by the SBP Governor that the economy was on the right track and continue to grow despite challenges posed by Covid-19.


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