International and national economists called for investing in human capital, creating employment through Small and medium enterprises, promoting local tourism, enhancing E-commerce and increasing innovations lead to productivity to deal with the economic fallout of COVID-19.
The deliberations were made by the economic experts at the webinar titled “Can We Build it Back, Better? Assessing Pandemic Driven Economic Challenges” in connection with UNSDG 8’Decent work and Economic growth’ organized by Sargodha University on Tuesday to discuss the economic impact of COVID-19 in Pakistan.
The webinar was attended by Dr Sun Huaping, a Professor of School of Finance and Economics Jiangsu University, China, Majyd Aziz former President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Faisal Abbas, an Associate Professor of National University of Science and Technology Islamabad, and Dr Muhammad Nasir Senior Research Economist of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics Islamabad.
Addressing the webinar Dr Sun Huaping said “The firms should be encouraged to bring back labor on work amid the SOPs and assuring all other safety measures. The State owned enterprises and public investments should play their active role for smooth run of the business activities and to reduce the damage caused by the pandemic.
Majyd Aziz said “The worst-hit segment of society from the lockdown was composed of daily-wage earners and small- and medium-sized business owners. Together, around two-thirds of businesses and means of communications and transportation are still closed and the ‘smart lockdown’ will only have a marginal impact on resuming normal production and revenue generation.” He asked all political parties of Pakistan to sign a ‘Charter of Economy’ in these testing times of pandemic as the coronavirus has hit Pakistan’s economy hard. He also suggested the government take pandemic driven decisions, invest in human capital, and to focus on value-added textiles for exports.
“COVID-19 has disrupted the whole scenario. The economy was not in any immediate damage of collapse but this Pandemic surely damaged our economy, blaming merely this Pandemic for economic instability isn’t true, there’s a need for restructuring the economic foundations for sustainable development.
Sharing some facts, Dr Faisal Abbas informed that the government had expected 3.3-3.4% GDP growth before the crisis but now the estimate “has been cut to 2-2.8%. He mentioned that the government was targeting to restrict the deficit to 7.4-7.5%. However, it is now expected to be around 9% due to increasing expenditure demand and fall in tax and non-tax revenues.
Dr Abbas suggested the government to launch an action on balancing between employment creation and economic production and plan to create employment for the pandemic poorer through SME, promoting E-commerce, local tourism, and supporting lower middle-class families in a way that they could produce home-made food for Food panda and Cheetay outlets etc.
“There is need to introduce ‘Economic Stimulus Package’ a combined package of monitory and fiscal policy such as an employment guarantee scheme, tax reforms, avoiding excessive documentation, investment on SME enterprises, avoiding highly regulated economy and improvement in research and development for more innovations lead towards productivity to minimize the economic damage,” said Dr Nasir.