Pakistan’s economic confidence falls despite strong economic sentiment overall in South Asia

KARACHI, January 17, 2019: The latest edition of Global Economic Conditions Survey (GECS) from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IMA (Institute of Management Accountants) finds Pakistan’s economic confidence fell sharply in the final quarter of 2018.

The global poll of 3,800 accountants found Pakistan’s economy to be amongst the lowest in the South Asia region as it continues to struggle with macroeconomic imbalances. Other regions recorded a negative confidence score with signs of growth weakening in the world’s three biggest economies – the US, China and the Eurozone. Global economic confidence fell for the third consecutive quarter in Q4 2018, ending the year at an all-time low.

Commenting on the findings, Sajjeed Aslam, head of ACCA Pakistan said: ‘Despite overall confidence in South Asia holding up better than elsewhere in the world, economic sentiment in Pakistan is now at its second-lowest level since the GECS series began in 2009.

‘Pakistan’s slump in confidence reflects the poor outlook for the economy, which is experiencing a balance-of-payments crisis – the current account deficit is around 6 per cent of GDP – and a large fiscal deficit in excess of 6 per cent of GDP. GDP growth is likely to slow. The World Bank recently downgraded our GDP growth forecast for fiscal 2018/19 to 3.7%, from 4.8% previously.’

Globally, the survey reveals respondents to be pessimistic about the outlook ahead, with the lowest scores recorded in Western Europe and the Caribbean. The least pessimistic part of the global economy was again South Asia, followed by Africaand North America.

GECS Q4 shows that the biggest concern for respondents was again rising costs, with 55% citing this as an issue and 47 percent of respondents globally are considering laying off staff, with just 18% considering taking on new workers.

Some 39 percent of respondents are considering scaling back investment in new capital projects, compared with just 16% who are looking to increase investment in new projects and the possibility of suppliers going out of business being a concern for just 12% of respondents – unchanged from Q3.

Narayanan Vaidyanathan, head of business insights at ACCA said of the global results: ‘Economic confidence over 2018 has been turbulent, with end of calendar year results downbeat compared to the start of 2018. It’s been interesting to look back at the GECS from the start of 2018, when we recorded economic confidence at its highest since the first survey was issued assessing Q1 2009.:Last year was clearly a roller-coaster ride and the outlook for 2019 is also uncertain.’

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