Pandemic impact on Pakistan
Contagious COVID-19 is a grim challenge to humanity. Although the fatality rate is less as compared to the previous pandemics, but fear, terror, and panic has created a unique impact. As no cure, no medicine, and no vaccine is available yet, only lockdown, social distance is the best recommended preventive measures. The world is witnessing economic decoupling, disruption of global supply chains, closure of schools, factories, and shopping malls, and the shutdown of cities. All sorts of gatherings are banned. The Pandemic is inexorably reconfiguring global geo-economics and geopolitics. The Pandemic has generated huge uncertainty and unknown fear. The virus outbreak has already brought colossal human suffering on the hand and caused significant economic disruption around the world on the other. Pakistan, being an integral part of the world economy, cannot remain immune to the ensuing global economic downturn.
Confirmed reported cases in Pakistan are 2,899, while the world has reached 1,224,938. The death toll in Pakistan is 45, while the world has touched 66,502. The total population of Pakistan is estimated at around 220 million. The number of confirmed cases per million population is 13, where the world figure is 157.1. The death rate per million population is 0.2, where the world figures is 8.5. The number of tests conducted is 158 per million population, wherein the rest of the world some countries have a very high rate as: Faeroe Islands 100076, Iceland 69276, Gibraltar 37666, Luxembourg 36412, Bahrain 25611, Malta 23459, and UAE 22244. It is evident that the number of tests conducted are rather low; it is very much possible the actual number of cases might be more but not tested, so not confirmed.
Impact on Economy
Pakistan economy was passing through its worst crisis, as the nations are facing an external debt of US Dollars 106 Billion. Imports stand around US Dollars 60 Billion and Imports only US Dollars 23 Billion. Trade deficiency and Debt Services are significant challenges being faced by Pakistan.
Due to lockdown, the exports are somewhat challenging to improve. Exports are likely to suffer a setback in the coming months owing to the scaling down of international demand for Pakistan's exports, large-scale canceling or deferral of export orders, and delays in the receipts of exports already shipped to various destinations.
Another source of Foreign Exchange for Pakistan used to be Foreign Remittances from Over-Seas Pakistanis. But due to Pandemic, the remittances are also struck. One good phenomenon witnessed is that imports have been reduced too.
Oil prices have the most dominating impact on Pakistan's economy. The most massive import bill for Pakistan is always oil and Petroleum products. Due to Pandemic transportation sector has reached to peak low. The demand for oil has been reduced sharply, and further oil-price declined to have a positive impact on Pakistan economy. Almost a 50% decline in oil prices will reduce the import bill by US$5 billion for the year.
Regarding Foreign Debt
International Financial Institutions are working on how to address the financial crunch and help developing countries to fight against Pandemic. There are chances of re-scheduling or some other mood of fiscal space for developing countries. Pakistan may be beneficiary of any concessions or flexibility offered by International Institutions like IMF, World Bank and Paris Club.
Pakistan will not be able to stay immune from the economic shockwaves of the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The government of Pakistan has already taken policy measures to absorb the adverse impact to some extent. The relief package announced by the Prime Minister of Pakistan has already addressed the issue. But it needs to brace for the severe economic impact and aim for timely actions. Timely, well-planned, and well-coordinated actions by the government will have the effect of minimizing the effect and limiting the economic damage resulting from the Pandemic.