PKR stability must for economic growth: Anjum Nisar

PKR stability must for economic growth: Anjum Nisar

Mian Anjum Nisar, Chairman, Businessmen Panel and former president of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) has said that economic growth is not possible without stability of Pak Rupee (PKR).

In a statement issued on Saturday, he urged the government to control instability of rupee against the US dollar, as the greenback has appreciated 7.15 per cent since May this year, hitting 10 months high to cross the Rs164 mark.

FPCCI’s Businessmen Panel Chairman Mian Anjum Nisar observed that the industrial expansion and economic growth is not possible without stability of local currency, as the dollar has been appreciating against the rupee for the last more than 10 months because of the higher current account deficit and burgeoning import bills.

FPCCI former president observed that the market-based flexible exchange rate system, resilience in remittances and other factors can help contain the current account deficit in a sustainable range of 2-3 percent of GDP in FY22.

He said that the rising of dollar is not logical despite the fact that the State Bank says Pakistan’s external position was at its strongest in 10 years with 0.6 per cent current account deficit in FY21.

Since the May this year, the dollar has been appreciated by 7.15 per cent against the local currency which lifted the cost of imported products and created uncertainty about the exchange rate stability.

The dollar was at Rs164 in October 2020 and now again hovering in the range of Rs164 in Aug 2021.

Since the beginning of the new financial year the exchange rate looked a shaky as the local currency lost almost 4 per cent against the US dollar. The market reacted over the policy-makers’ announcement about 2-3 per cent current account deficit, while the importers rushed for higher amount.

He said that trade and industry have no idea as to what is the real exchange rate needed by the central bank and which is the end point for depreciation of rupee. Though the exporters would get some benefit against their export proceeds but the overall economy would face a tough time as the cost has been rising and finally it would affect consumption, which is the main wheel to run the economy.

Although the central banks’ foreign exchange reserves are in a better shape, but it has to rely heavily on borrowing to keep it at around $18 billion which affects the local currency value negatively.

He said that Pakistan has received record $29.4 billion remittances in fiscal year 2020-21 and it again received $2.7 billion in July FY22, indicating that the new financial year would also get help larger than the entire exports of the country, which is not long-term solution.

Besides increasing exports and controlling imports the government will have to take administrative measures, as a large demand of cash dollars are seen in the market. Mian Mian Anjum Nisar appreciated the positive development related to economic indicators, urging the government to control volatility of rupee against the US dollar, showing that exchange rate is not managed by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) but it also indicates the exchange rate is not stable.

He said that the end of previous fiscal year with rising current account deficit was a serious blow to the exchange rate while the fear of higher demand of dollars further exacerbated with the information of the SBP that the county would need $20 billion to repay loans.

Nisar said that the import bill of $6 billion in June this year was enough to signal the market that demand of dollar was very high. He said that the rising instability in Afghanistan has stirred fear within Pakistan that may hurt the normal economic life in the country, motivating people to buy dollars. At the same time, exports to Afghanistan have come down to almost zero level.

Formal and informal exports to the country are in the range of $1.5 billion to $2 billion per year. Mian Anjum said that the fourth wave of Covid-19 is another negative force to depreciate the local currency and shatter the confidence.

Terming rupee depreciation against dollar a mysterious development, he said that continued fall of rupee is not understandable with the fact that there was no fundamental change in the country’s economic indicators.