The year 2020, like 1929\’s Great Depression and 2008\’s Global Economic Crisis, has faced similar economic consequences, yet it is very different. Mainly, because it is a pandemic that has led to a recession rather than the misjudgment and greed of the financial entities and private investors, or to put it in a more diplomatic manner: “a systemic crisis”. A better comparison of the current crisis would be with the World War II of 1939-1945 or the 1918 Spanish Flu, when not only were the economies collapsing, but the lives of people as well.
As usual, whenever there is a global crisis, big-hearted Pakistan and its people have to welcome it with overflowing warmth. Following are some of the economic outcomes of Covid-19 in a country that has been dwelling in crisis long before the virus took a swing:
- The KSE-100 Index of Pakistan Stock Exchange dropped by over 25% in March 2020
- The value of rupee fell by over 6%.
- The overall economy is estimated to lose up to 4% of total GDP as a result of trade deficit, reduction in remittances and FDIs, and disruption in various local industries.
- According to experts, the unemployment rate could go as high as 28% by the end of the year.
- The country\’s forex reserves dropped by 12%.
Now, let\’s have a look at some of the health-related consequences of the virus as of 9th June 2020:
- 231,818 people have been infected by the virus, which gives us an average of around 2000 new cases every single day starting from 26th Feb, 2020. The growth rate of new cases is much higher than the current world average.
- Total fatalities has touched 4762 and the death rate is increasing day by day.
- Some media reports suggest that that actual number of cases could be in millions but due to shortage of testing kits we have not been able to test as efficiently as we would like to.
- There is shortage of ventilators as well as beds in almost all the hospitals whether private or government operated.
Despite the drastic economic consequences, the health impacts seem more alarming at the moment. Why? Because human life is beyond any monetary value. So can we all, as one nation, fight this together and get our priorities straight? Obviously, we cannot undermine the ongoing economic situation because hunger is real here and one of the most important metrics to measure a country\’s success and well-being is its economic conditions. But historically, our nation which is based on the supposed principles of “Unity. Faith. Discipline\”, has failed to prioritize key issues time and time again. This time too, it seems like the people are failing to fulfill their individual responsibilities as citizens and as humans. As a result, the country is plummeting towards one of the greatest socio-economic crises since its independence.
To conclude, instead of debating over the effectiveness of a lockdown, blaming the government\’s policies, our employers, and/or the whole system, let\’s take a more micro approach and start shifting the focus on ourselves and our decisions because every single action taken on an individual level has a societal impact.
We must understand that almost all other countries are going through a similar period of turmoil as us. As individuals, the least we can do is stay cautious, help the people going through monetary, health, or any other crisis (obviously within the scope of our circumstances).
So, work hard, go out only when needed, and do whatever you have to do to survive, but always make your own health and the health of others around you your first priority: take the necessary preventive measures such as wearing a mask, keeping a sanitizer and maintaining social distance. The more we work as a team and put aside our personal, cultural, racial and religious differences, the faster we will be able to overcome this pandemic & its consequences.