Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Contraction in LSM output dims prospects of growth this fiscal year

March LSM output drops by 25%; steep contraction will increase pace of inflation and put jobs at risk

A worker monitors automatic copper wire unit at the Fast Cables plant in Lahore, Pakistan, March 24, 2017. — Reuters
A worker monitors automatic copper wire unit at the Fast Cables plant in Lahore, Pakistan, March 24, 2017. — Reuters

  • PBS data shows LSM output drops by 25% in March.
  • Big industries output witnessed highest-ever decline since COVID-19.
  • Steep contraction will increase pace of inflation, put jobs at risk.

ISLAMABAD: A steep contraction in output of large-scale manufacturing (LSM) in March has faded the prospects of achieving a positive growth figure, The News reported Tuesday. 

The delay in the revival of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme has choked the economy consequently the LSM contracted massively; as a result, it can halt economic activities, boost already-high inflation and increase unemployment.

Although the Ministry of Finance has projected a provisional GDP (gross domestic product) growth rate of positive 0.8% in its revised estimates, the latest figures of LSM for March 2023 demonstrate that it remained negative by 25%, compared to the corresponding month of the last year.

The big industries' output witnessed the highest-ever decline since COVID-19 pandemic. In the first nine months (July-March) of the outgoing fiscal year, the LSM witnessed a contraction of 8.1%.

“Keeping in view the performance of the industrial and agriculture sector, the provisional growth figure may turn into negative up to -1%. Earlier, the efforts were underway for turning the provisional figure into positive ranging from 0 to 0.5%," sources confirmed to The News.

The National Accounts Committee (NAC) is scheduled to hold its meeting within the ongoing week to calculate the provisional growth figures for the outgoing financial year 2022-23.

Dr Khaqan Najeeb, former finance ministry adviser, said the industrial sector had been unable to secure letters of credit due to the country being in a dollar liquidity crunch. 

The lack of access to imports has hurt industrial production as evident in the fall of LSMI output by 8.11% in the first nine months (July-March) of 2022-23.

"The revival of the IMF programme would have ensured a flow of dollars from multilaterals, bilateral and commercial monies to ease the imports and unclog the economic activity," he said.

"It is likely that growth would be muted in the outgoing fiscal year with a contraction in the manufacturing and agriculture sector. This would create further unemployment and rise inflation due to shortfall in supplies," he concluded.