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Pakistan likely to experience broad economic recovery in FY 2021: ADB

ISLAMABAD (City News) – Pakistan is projected to experience a broad economic recovery in fiscal year 2021 (which ends 30 June 2021) as the economic sentiment improves with the expected subsiding of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and the resumption of structural reforms, says an Asian Development Bank (ADB) report.

The Asian Development Outlook (ADO) Update released today revised the 2020 growth forecast for Pakistan to -0.4% and the growth forecast for 2021 to 2.0%.

“Pakistan has achieved notable success in containing the dual health and economic challenge presented by COVID-19,” said ADB Country Director for Pakistan Xiaohong Yang. “As the curve flattens and businesses activity resumes, the economy is showing signs of resilience and recovery. The government’s rapid mobilization on 24 August of 1.2 trillion rupee relief package comprising emergency financial support to daily wage earners, cash transfers to low-income families, accelerated procurement of wheat, support for health and food supplies, and financial support for small and medium enterprises helped shield the poor and most vulnerable during the pandemic. ADB remains committed to supporting Pakistan through this difficult period and helping the country get back on the path to growth.”

On the other hand, the report said that policies that promote and facilitate health and overall wellness are vital for Asia and the Pacific’s recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

It said that on top of the obvious health risks, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased inactivity, stress, and anxiety as lockdowns and layoffs heighten isolation, uncertainty, and economic hardships. The theme chapter, Wellness in Worrying Times, examines how wellness can help rebuild the human mind and body, and contribute to rebuilding the economy.

“Wellness involves the pursuit of activities that lead to holistic health, happiness, and well-being,” said ADB Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada. “The pandemic has had a significant negative impact on physical and mental health, and governments should incorporate wellness-promoting policies into their recovery plans to promote economic growth that will benefit both individuals and society”, it added.

The report identifies a set of wellness measures across a range of policy domains including a healthy built environment, public infrastructure for physical recreation, healthy diet and nutrition, and a safe and healthy work environment. It explores how measures in these areas can contribute towards the region’s recovery from the pandemic and emphasizes the importance of a lifespan approach to wellness to safeguard long-term mental and physical health.

Governments in the region can support public infrastructure that promote wellness including walkways, bicycle lanes, parks, recreation centers, and free sporting facilities. This will increase the number of people who participate in recreational physical activities on a regular basis—currently at 33.2%—making them healthier. Public infrastructure and programs for wellness are especially important for poorer Asians, who usually lack access to private wellness facilities such as fitness centers.

Lastly, governments in Asia and the Pacific should strive to ensure a safe and healthy physical work environment for workers, especially in a post-COVID-19 scenario. In 2018, an estimated 2.3 million people died from work-related accidents and diseases worldwide, with the region accounting for over two-thirds of the total. The report notes that workers’ happiness can improve by 0.15 units (on a scale of 1 to 10) if per capita workplace wellness spending doubles from the $11 global average to $22—which could lead to increased productivity and output.

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