3 million job loses expected in Pakistan due to COVID-19 outbreak

Sajjad Hussain

Islamabad, Jun 5 (PTI) Cash-strapped Pakistan is expected to record around 3 million jobs loses due to the coronavirus outbreak, the finance ministry told the country's Senate on Friday.

In response to Senator Mushtaq Ahmed's question on estimated damage to the economy due to the pandemic, the finance ministry said the industrial sector is likely to lose 1 million jobs and the remaining 2 million will be lost in the service sector.

The ministry cited the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics study and said the job loss could be greater at an estimated 18 million jobs, including agricultural, services and industrial sectors.

The novel coronavirus has spread at a rapid rate in Pakistan, since its first case diagnosed on February 26. So far, 89,249 cases have been reported in the country with 1,838 deaths.

However, economic constrains have led to the coronavirus lockdown being lifted. Prime Minister Imran Khan had called the enforcing of a strict lockdown a 'mistake' as it aggravated the economic situation.

'Lockdown is not a solution as it can only slow down. So it was a mistake to shut down business in the country,' Khan had said on Monday, after reviewing the coronavirus situation.

The finance ministry on Friday told the Upper House of the Parliament that the percentage of people living in poverty would increase from 24.3 per cent to 33.5 per cent.

Similarly, the fiscal deficit is expected to rise from the initial target of 7.5 per cent to 9.4 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.

It said exports will fall from USD 25 billion to USD 22 billion due to no trade with the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and the Middle East. Remittances will also fall from USD 23 billion to USD 21 billion.

Tax revenue also decreased from USD 29 billion to USD 24 billion, while the Federal Bureau of Revenue is expected to suffer a loss of USD 4 billion to USD 5.5 billion between April and June.

The ministry said the Pakistan rupee depreciated from Rs 154.23 in February to Rs 166.70 in March. In May, the Pakistan Rupee was valued at Rs 163.10 against the Dollar.

The ministry said Gross Domestic Product growth for 2020 fiscal was estimated at 3.24 per cent. However, the GDP growth posted negative growth of -0.4 per cent -- industrial sector -2.64 per cent, agricultural sector 2.67 per cent and services sector -0.59 per cent.

The finance ministry said a USD 7.59 trillion relief package has been announced to aid the poor and ailing business. PTI SH IND