ISLAMABAD: The country missed the economic growth target for the current financial year by a wide margin mainly because of widespread dismal performance by the agriculture sector. The gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 4.7 per cent against the target of 5.5pc.
At a meeting on Friday of the national accounts committee comprising senior representatives from the four provinces and regions and technical experts, the performance of all economic sectors was added up that showed higher than targeted growth by the industrial sector. The services sector achieved its growth target of 5.7pc.
But the most worrying aspect of the year was a 0.19pc negative growth by agriculture as a whole against the target of 3.9pc.
Cotton output led the freefall in the agriculture sector, considered the backbone of the national economy, as it posted a negative growth of 27pc. The cotton output stood at 10.1 million bales against the target of 13.96m bales. Last year, its output stood at 13.9m bales with a 9.5pc growth.
The industrial sector, favoured by PML-N, booms as the agriculture sector suffers in the current financial year
As a result, cotton ginning declined by 21pc against the target of 5pc. Important crops output fell by 7.18pc against the target of 3.2pc, while other crops fell by 6.2pc against the target of 4.5pc.
Wheat production grew by a meager 0.61pc to 25.47 million tonnes.
The livestock sector grew by 3.63pc, but remained short of the 4.1pc target, while fisheries increased by 3.3pc, surpassing the 3pc target. Forestry was the only saving grace in the agriculture sector as it grew by 8.8pc against the target of 4pc.
On an overall basis, industry grew by 6.8pc against the target of 6.4pc. It was supported by the construction and electricity sectors — the linchpins of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government’s development focus.
Last year, industry had grown by 3.6pc.
The mining and quarrying sector grew by 6.8pc against the target of 6pc, but the overall manufacturing sector could not meet growth expectations. The manufacturing sector posted a growth of 5pc, but remained short of the 6.1pc target. It had grown by 3.2pc last year.
The most important sector in industrial domain — large scale manufacturing (LSM) — also could not meet its growth target of 6pc. It grew by 4.6pc. LSM had improved by only 2.4pc last year. Small and household manufacturing grew by 8.2pc against the target of 8.3pc.
The construction sector grew by 13.1pc as it went beyond the 8.5pc target, while electricity generation and gas distribution improved by 12.2pc against the target of 6pc.
The services sector could meet the target of 5.7pc, but this was mainly supported by an increase in the salary of government employees. This was evident from an 11.13pc growth in general government services against the target of 6pc.
Transport, storage and communication services grew by 4.1pc against the target of 6.1pc, while wholesale and retail trade improved by 4.57pc against the target of 5.5pc.
The finance and insurance sector exceeded the target of 6.5pc with a 7.1pc growth. Housing services stood at 3.99pc against the target of 4pc.
Likewise, other private services improved by 6.64pc against the target of 6.4pc.
Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2016