Pakistan’s trade deficit widens to record levels

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Amid the country’s widening trade deficit, it is expected that some difficult policy decisions will be made in the coming weeks….reports Asian Lite News

Pakistan’s trade deficit widened to record levels over the last two months, and exports continued to slide, local media said on Sunday.

In an opinion piece, The Express Tribune reported that the government’s own data, released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, shows that previous attempts to address the situation clearly failed, with heavy export subsidies and currency devaluation doing nothing to improve the numbers.

Amid the country’s widening trade deficit, it is expected that some difficult policy decisions will be made in the coming weeks. Aside from the deficit, the exports were below the government’s projection for July and August.

According to the publication, Prime Minister Imran Khan last month had called his financial team to find ways to reduce imports of non-essential goods, including automobiles. Despite this, the number of ads for new imported cars suggests that nothing has come of this proposal.

“While we started the year with significant foreign currency reserves, that cash will disappear remarkably soon if this massive spike in imports continues. In addition, since remittances are not projected to grow significantly, the government may be forced to borrow to shore up foreign exchange reserves. Given the existing debt problems, that would be disastrous,” The Express Tribune reported.

It further reported that Pakistan is in no position to opt for consumption-based growth unless the products being consumed are local. But the only way to do that would be to bring back heavy import tariffs and restrictions while transferring some of the failed export subsidies to manufacturers targeting the domestic market.

Meanwhile, in February 2020, inflation had jumped to 12.4 per cent, reported The Express Tribune.

Journalists, lawyers stage protest

Hundreds of journalists in Pakistan gathered outside the Parliament House on Sunday to protest against the proposed ‘Pakistan Media Development Authority’ (PMDA) law.

The call for the sit-in was given by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and a number of scribe groups, opposition parties, lawyers and the representatives of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan participated in it, Express Tribune reported.

“The government intended to bring PMDA and electronic voting machines to rig the elections,” and now “media martial law is being slapped on the media through the PMDA,” Shazia Atta Marri, who is the Central Information Secretary of Pakistan People Party said during the sit-in.

Meanwhile, the journalists affiliated with different news organisations and press associations have termed the law against article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan, which guarantees freedom of speech and expression to the people.

People walk at a market in eastern Pakistan’s Rawalpindi

They also informed that “the proposed legislation would not only deprive journalists and media organizations of the press freedom but would also deprive civil society, students, lawyers, teachers, law-makers, trade unions, political, religious activists and in fact 220 million population of the country of their basic rights,” The News International reported.

Despite being a democratic state, Pakistan continues to suppress free speech in digital spaces, stopping its citizens from participating in the working of the state by depriving them of a resourceful channel for vocalizing their concerns.

Writer Mehmil Khalid cites an assessment report ‘Pakistan Freedom of Expression Report 2020’ by Media Matters for Democracy (MMfD) to say that the country performed poorly in all the indicators that determine free speech and that the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the digital censorship in Pakistan.

Pakistan scored 30 points out of 100 on the assessment report index, which analysts say proves the fact that the government has placed curbs on free speech and disallowed people to talk especially about the pandemic and the related information. (ANI)

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