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Sindh, Balochistan’s share in GDP drops

February 21, 2006

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KARACHI, Feb 20: A research study spread over 28 years of the provincial accounts of Pakistan from 1972-73 to 1999-2000 has found a gradual pauperization of the two southern provinces —- Sindh and Balochistan -— and a corresponding rise in prosperity in the two northern provinces -— Punjab and the NWFP.

Punjab’s share in the gross domestic product has increased by two per cent to 54.7 per cent. The NWFP has by and large maintained its share between 11.4 and 11.7 per cent, but the two southern provinces — Sindh and Balochistan — showed a decline by about one per cent each. Sindh’s share in the GDP dropped to 30.2 per cent from 31 per cent and that of Balochistan to 3.7 per cent from 4.5 per cent.

This result of the provincial GDP growth is corroborated in per capita terms during the 28 years period. Punjab’s per capita GDP showed a rise of 2.4 per cent a year, followed closely by the NWFP where it is 2.2 per cent. But Balochistan’s per capita showed an insignificant growth of 0.2 per cent. Sindh’s per capita growth is 1.7 per cent.

“However, it is not clear as to how the result would emerge if Karachi is excluded,” observe two authors -— Kaiser Bengali and Mahpara Sadaqat -— of a study on “Provincial Accounts of Pakistan: Methodology and Estimates 1973-2000”.

Released by a well-known private research consultancy, the Social Policy and Development Centre (SPDC), the authors have pointed out their difficulties in construction of the provincial GDP. “In Pakistan, regional analysis and publication of regionally disaggregated have been officially discouraged, rendering the present task all the more difficult,” the report states, pointing out that success of the regional accounting exercise depends on its official adoption.

The study reveals Punjab’s increase in share of livestock, fishing, forestry, small-scale manufacturing, construction, road transport, communications, wholesale and retail trade, banking and insurance, public administration and defence and services. “The result is indicative of the diversification of the Punjab economy,” it says.

The robust growth in livestock and fishing points has brought about a slight reduction of the dominance over the crop sector in the rural economy of Punjab. In large-scale manufacturing, although its share remains more or less constant, the sector reports a healthy five per cent plus growth. Communications, wholesale and retail trade, banking and insurance and services sectors showed a growth ranging between six and 11 per cent. “These are indicators towards a potentially strong and modern economy,” the report observes.

According to the report, Punjab’s share in the wholesale and retail trade during 28 years had increased from 43 per cent to 50.3 per cent, communications from 46.4 per cent to 53.3 per cent, banking and insurance from 42.1 per cent to 51.9 per cent, services from 52.1 per cent to 62.7 per cent, and defence and public administration from 51.8 per cent to 55.3 per cent.

Sindh’s share has increased in major crops, livestock, mining and quarrying, rail transport, air transport and wholesale and retail trade. The growth in major crops has been attributed to a significant improvement in yields and partly to sharp rise in sugarcane output. The growth in the mining and quarrying sector indicates that the province has emerged as depository of gas, oil and coal reserves and is now the energy powerhouse of the country.

The study has found Sindh’s share in the large-scale industry and wholesale and retail trade constant, with both the sectors reporting a five per cent plus annual growth. It explains that this is because “Karachi continues to occupy the comparative advantage on account of location of the port, although it may be losing its pre-eminent position in modern tertiary sectors”. “The rest of Sindh appears to be regressing towards a narrow primary commodities centred economic base,” is the bottom line of the report.

The NWFP and Balochistan economies are small relative to those of Punjab and Sindh and according to the report, the growth rates are somewhat misleading on account of low base that the two economies commenced in the early 1970s. Balochistan appears to at best to remain trapped in a low-level equilibrium and at worst regressing further into under-development.

The report explains a decline in major crops share in Punjab and an increase of more than double in Sindh. In Sindh, sugarcane output increased by two and half times, while per acre yield of rice, cotton and sugarcane increased significantly faster than Punjab.

Another aspect of the report is that Balochistan’s per capita GDP was higher than the NWFP during 1973 to 1979 after which NWFP’s GDP per capita increased. The report raises doubts about the accuracy of 1972 population census of Balochistan where a significant part is nomadic.