The economic landscape of Pakistan has faced a notable setback, with the Large Scale Manufacturing Industries (LSMI) output experiencing a decline of 10.26 per cent during the fiscal year 2022–23 when compared to the same period in 2021–22. This concerning information has been revealed by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), shedding light on the current state of the country’s industrial sector.

The provisional Quantum Index numbers of the large-scale manufacturing industries (QIM) further underscore this decline. Specifically, the LSMI output took a significant hit in June 2023, plummeting by 14.96 per cent compared to June 2022. However, there is a glimmer of hope, as the output experienced a slight uptick of 0.98 per cent in comparison to May 2023.

Diving into the specifics, the LSMI Quantum Index Number (QIM) for June 2023 has been estimated at 112.21, while the QIM for the period of July–June 2022–23 stands at 114.83. These numbers provide a quantitative overview of the challenges faced by the manufacturing sector during this time frame.

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The foundation for these indices lies in data provided by several key agencies, including the OCAC, Ministry of Industries and Production, Ministry of Commerce, and Provincial Bureau of Statistics (BoS). Their collaboration has enabled the creation of the provisional quantum indices of LSMI for June 2023, based on the 2015–16 base year.

Various industries have played a role in shaping this decline, with notable contributors including food (-1.14 per cent), tobacco (-0.65 per cent), textiles (-3.65 per cent), garments (2.79 per cent), petroleum products (-0.89 per cent), chemicals (-0.52 per cent), pharmaceuticals (-1.85 per cent), cement (-0.86 per cent), iron and steel products (-0.24 per cent), electrical equipment (-0.54 per cent), and automobiles (-2.21 per cent).

Analysing the production trends over a larger period, July–June 2022–23, as compared to July–June 2021–22, reveals a mixed picture. While there have been increases in production for wearing apparel, furniture, and other manufacturing (football), there have also been notable decreases in food, tobacco, textile, coke, and petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, non-metallic mineral products, machinery and equipment, automobiles, and other transport equipment.

Industries that demonstrated growth during the July-June period include wearing apparel (27.16 per cent), leather products (1.29 per cent), furniture (35.51 per cent), and other manufacturing (football) (28.99 per cent). However, sectors such as food (6.90 per cent), beverages (6.43 per cent), tobacco (28.36 per cent), textiles (18.68 per cent), and many others have faced declines, indicating a complex and multifaceted economic situation.

In particular, the petroleum products industry has witnessed a substantial decline of 13.39 per cent during July–June 2022–23. High-speed diesel and furnace oil also experienced negative growth, with decreases of 17.09 per cent and 14.65 per cent, respectively. On the other hand, jet fuel oil managed to buck the trend with a growth rate of 6.63 per cent, suggesting a nuanced narrative within the energy sector.

Cement production, a crucial indicator of construction and infrastructure activity, also faced a decline of 13.67 per cent during July–June 2022–23, highlighting potential challenges in these sectors.

As Pakistan navigates through these economic fluctuations, stakeholders and policymakers will need to closely analyse the contributing factors to these declines and strategize effectively to bolster the country’s manufacturing sector, ensuring sustainable growth and resilience in the face of challenges.