By: Suraya Raiszada
KABUL: Following rapid COVID-19 outbreak in Afghanistan and a number of countries in world and region, World Bank in its recent report has said that eight Asian countries including Afghanistan will face with serious economic problems.
Based on the report, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka will face with the worst economic situation in the past 40 years.
According to the WB report, Afghanistan is on the top of other Asian countries and will be faced with big financial challenges due to COVID19 outbreak in the country.
The report added that Afghanistan economic growth would be affected by coronavirus outbreak this year and the crisis would lead most of residents living in remote areas to poverty and hunger.
Amid the mounting human toll and global economic fallout triggered by the pandemic, a half-yearly update from the World Bank anticipated a sharp economic slump in each of the region’s eight countries, caused by halting economic activity, collapsing trade and greater stress in financial and banking sectors.
In case of prolonged and broad national lockdowns, the report warns of a worst-case scenario in which the entire region would experience a negative growth rate this year.
The deteriorated forecast would linger in 2021, with growth projected to hover between 3.1 and 4.0 percent, down from the previous 6.7 percent estimate, the report added.
“The priority for all South Asian governments is to contain the virus spread and protect their people, especially the poorest who face considerable worse health and economic outcomes,” said Hartwig Schafer, World Bank vice-president for the South Asia region.
“The COVID-19 crisis is also an urgent call-to-action moment to pursue innovative policies and jumpstart South Asian economies once the crisis is over. Failure to do so can lead to long-term growth disruptions and reverse hard-won progress in reducing poverty,” he continued.
The report said the impact of the pandemic would hit hard low-income people, especially informal workers in the hospitality, retail trade and transport sectors who had limited or no access to healthcare or social safety nets.
The World Bank has called on the Asian countries to take some initiatives to amend their economic beyond the COVID19 crisis.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan Central Statistics Authority says the figures released by the World Bank regarding Afghanistan economic growth is not right. It considers agriculture as the most significant element for economic development in Afghanistan.
“Continued rainfalls this year have put very good impacts on Afghanistan agriculture; therefore, we can say that the country’s economic growth is positive this year,” said Abdul Hasib Muwahid, deputy of Afghanistan Central Statistics Authority.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan ministry of finance has warned that Afghanistan revenues will go down unprecedentedly if the situation with COVID-19 continues.
In its report, the World Bank has said that the bank is determined to provide $160 million to most vulnerable Asian countries including Afghanistan.