Interview with Ms. Natasha Haseeb — Analyst
PAGE: Tell me something about yourself, please:
Natasha Haseeb: I am a News Anchor at PTV News. I have done my MPhil in Political Science from the University of Karachi and I am doing a business show. I have a keen interest in business so I am doing a show named “Baat Karobar Ki” which includes the economy, stock market and business of the country. I am very friendly by nature. My strengths are my research and analytical approach. I like to conduct interviews. I have conducted a lot of interviews with different people from different sectors who have very vast experience.
In my leisure time, I enjoy spending time with my friends: sometimes cooking, listening to music, watching films, and dramas, reading, traveling and playing games sort of things.
PAGE: What is the state of the economy at this particular juncture?
Natasha Haseeb: Pakistan’s economy is largely based on private enterprises: Large scale manufacturing LSM and Small and Medium Enterprises SMEs. After Covid-19, businesses have now changed and we have to adjust ourselves to these times. At this particular juncture, we just need stability in politics and policies.
Pakistan is a nation that has a lot of potential, enthusiasm and knowledge of businesses. Right now, I am seeing that this government is taking many unpopular initiatives to support the economy and long-term policy benefits to the country. Another thing that has made us very optimistic is that the FATF watchdog upgraded Pakistan to the white list on 21st October after more than four years, which is a big achievement for Pakistan.
PAGE: How do you see the exports and imports of Pakistan during this FY?
Natasha Haseeb: There is a tug-of-war between imports and exports of Pakistan and usually imports win but after the recent catastrophic floods, we have to set some new norms for the businesses. Today, Pakistan meets most of the requirements, that foreign investors are looking for. Despite the political issues foreign investors are attracted to invest in Pakistan. And we hope Pakistan’s economy will get better in the future. Security concerns of the investors have been addressed already. Imports and exports play a big role in the country’s economy. It is made easy by importers and exporters nowadays.
Agriculture can play a vital role in the process of economic development of a country. Pakistan’s agriculture has more than 40% of the labor. Pakistan is one of the largest agriculture suppliers in the world. Almost half of the trade in agriculture is in livestock. Pakistan is the fifth largest milk producer according to the food and agriculture organization.
Industries contribute a lot to the development of the country. Cotton, textiles and apparel production are the largest industries in Pakistan. Textile is a very vast field and Pakistan is good at it. Pakistan produces garments, sportswear, leather items, etc. Textile and apparel manufacturing add to most of the export earnings in Pakistan. Many other industries like cement, steel, sugar, fertilizer, poultry etc. play a crucial role in the economy.
PAGE: What is your perspective on the stock market of Pakistan?
Natasha Haseeb: The Pakistan Stock Exchange is undervalued and earnings growth of the benchmark bourse was led by blue-chip. In the region price earning multiple is very cheap as low as 4.5%. Impressive results were posted by Commercial Banks given the hike in interest rates.
The oil and gas exploration sector amid higher realized oil prices and PKR fluctuation and the technology sector have so much potential and have given appreciation which aided dollar-denominated revenue. PKR volatility also dented the sentiments of the market, and all of the political noise created by the opposition pushed the sentiments down, therefore, investors usually kept themselves cautious this quarter and are waiting for the trigger or opportunity. There will be a bull run once the political dust settles.
PAGE: How would you comment on the financial woes of Pakistan?
Natasha Haseeb: Challenges have continued to pile on in the ongoing year, ranging from high international commodity prices amid post-Covid demand supply problems and the Russia-Ukraine war, as well as high domestic inflation, hike in the policy rate augmenting borrowing costs, the slowdown in the local economy slashing demand, particularly after the devastating floods and restrictions set by the SBP on imports and LC opening.
In addition, the government imposed a rather hefty super tax in the year (10% on last year booked in 2QY22, and 4% going forward). Yet, earnings of the KSE-100 index have managed to not only absorb all pressures but posted a YoY growth of 5.2% in 9MY22 and 3.7% YoY in 3QY22. Barring the impact of super tax, growth could have been much higher.