APBF urges world bank to invest in social sector

Business Report

LAHORE: President Syed Maaz Mahmood on Monday urged the World Bank (WB) to invest in social sector of Pakistan.

He stated this during an online interaction session between World Bank Senior Economist Gonzalo Varela here. APBF arranged the session to discuss the current economic situation of Pakistan and recommended some key steps with a view to revive and sustain the economic growth in post-corona slowdown.

On this occasion, Varela said that Pakistan is not immune to the economic shock caused by the coronavirus and its exports have been hit hard, as the country recorded $1.39 billion in merchandise exports in May 2020, showing 34 percent drop with respect to the same period in 2019.

The World Bank Senior Economist said that short-term global trade prospects don’t offer room for optimism as experts forecast contractions in exports in the months ahead. At such a time, exports are crucial to Pakistan because they are labor-intensive and provide plenty of good jobs to Pakistanis. He said that global and regional trade integration offers Pakistan tremendous potential in driving and sustaining growth and poverty reduction.

He suggested the need for protecting the exporters through smart export promotion. He said that the government needs to take actions to help speed up its exports.

APBF President Syed Maaz Mahmood appreciated the debt relief measures taken by the G20 countries, IMF and the World Bank for the developing countries including Pakistan.

He urged the multilateral development partners, including WB, to play their due role by investing in social sector rather than mega development projects only, which would help in bringing the focus of member governments back to social sector development. He said Pakistan’s health care system was not equipped to handle such emergencies, whereas WB was working with the government to help enhance health capacity to respond to the challenge effectively, which is appreciable.

Syed Maaz Mahmood observed the initial relief packages of $1.4 billion by the IMF and $1 billion by the World Bank would have substantial impact and provide much needed fiscal space to Pakistan which should be used for the well-being and welfare of the public.

While noting that the Covid-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented health and economic challenges, he said that a global recession might become worse than the Great Depression. A global pandemic cannot be contained without strong, coordinated and well-crafted global response.

On this occasion, APBF national and provincial board members called for announcing special incentives for cash-strapped SMEs, which represent more than 90 per cent of around 3.2 million business enterprises in Pakistan.