Services sector shrinking at a fast pace. Crisis has shaken retail sector, recovery can take years. National authority proposed to combat virus.


(May 13, 2020)

FPCCI’s Businessmen Panel SVP, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Wednesday said that the services sector serving tens of millions of people shrinking at a fast pace. The crisis has shaken the resilient retail sector while the revival of some sectors can take years.

Economies centred around the service sector may recover sooner than the economies based on industry or agriculture, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that the pandemic has damaged almost every sector including tourism, transport and hospitality and other sub-sectors.

Talking to the business community he said that the services sector has collapsed with the coronavirus-led lockdown causing a historic spike in the layoffs and reinforcing fears of a deep recession. The noted that our services sector continues to post a worst-ever drop in business activity which can be described as a complete standstill.

The former minister noted that the economic damage caused by the virus is yet to be ascertained by our authorities but it is safe to assume that it has contracted GDP substantially and added trouble in the lives of the millions which were already reeling under problems, he added.

He informed that Pakistan’s resilient and the unorganized retail sector enjoys being the third-largest sector following agriculture and manufacturing. The share of wholesale and retail trade in GDP averaged around a steady 17.5% in the past decade and it was growing until recently. He said that now traders have lost their patience and they are demanding the complete reopening of this sector which is taken by authorities cautiously.

Many think that worst is over but expectations towards the near future will not be as rosy as considered by many as the response of the authorities to the problem has left much to be desired, he said. If the crisis persists, the whole hospitality, tourism and other industries in Pakistan and other developing countries may collapse in which the women have a 54 percent share worldwide.

Government programmes to support needy and unemployed people through direct payments can help protect vulnerable workers from services sectors but the absence of a political will is a problem. He also demanded steps to support expatriated who have lost jobs and now looking towards the government for some support.

He proposed the establishment of a national authority to combat the virus which must include health experts, industrialists, traders, academicians, media professionals which can frame a proper policy to boost the economy.