Macro Bites

Macro Bite # 89

2 min read
As all the discussions this week centered on whether or not Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government would survive, one entity working under him definitively wrapped up its operations. While the PTI chairperson has endured mixed results in power, one of his undoubted successes has been the functioning of the National Command Operation Center (NCOC).

When Covid-19 struck, many Pakistani citizens were fearful, and rightly so. The country’s public health infrastructure doesn’t work optimally at the best of times, and grim scenes from around the world in the pandemic’s initial weeks threatened to cause panic in Pakistan.

But NCOC’s response to Covid-19 was near-exemplary. Formed by PM Khan as a joint civilian-military entity, it was the body designated to lead the national Covid-19 response. Its SOPs, targeted lockdowns and vaccine rollout led to a relatively low death toll of 30,000 in the country, with hospitals rarely overwhelmed. Additionally, nearly 130 million Pakistanis received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine to date.

With daily Covid-19 deaths in the country in low single digits, NCOC wrapped up operations this week, handing over its responsibilities to the National Institute of Health in Islamabad. The entity’s success still raises larger questions about why the civilian Ministry of Health was regarded as insufficient, and a joint civil-military body was needed, but that is a question for a political scientist to consider for another day.

WEEKLY DATA WATCH  

KSE-100 rose this week, due to a decline in international oil prices. PKR depreciated again this week to record lows, with political uncertainty and a delay in the IMF program to blame.

The annual change in Sensitive Price Index rose to 16.79% vs. 15.67% last week. The poorest of the country (Q1) experienced a change of 14.61% vs. 17.56% for Q5. On a weekly basis, prices rose for all quintiles by 0.53%.
Increase in prices of Tomatoes (+41.0%) and Onions (+22.7%) contributed to weekly inflation. A fall in the price of Chicken (-8.93%) and Eggs (-2.11%) helped moderate inflation this week.


What Else We’re Reading (Local)

  • The annual change in Sensitive Price Index rose to 16.79% vs. 15.67% last week. The poorest of the country (Q1) experienced a change of 14.61% vs. 17.56% for Q5. On a weekly basis, prices rose for all quintiles by 0.53%.
  • Increase in prices of Tomatoes (+41.0%) and Onions (+22.7%) contributed to weekly inflation. A fall in the price of Chicken (-8.93%) and Eggs (-2.11%) helped moderate inflation this week.

What Else We’re Reading (International)

  • Is China’s attempt to completely eradicate Covid-19 a futile exercise that could ultimately backfire in other ways? (Bloomberg)
  • Inflation in the eurozone has hit record highs, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine causing spiraling fuel prices. (FT)

Asad Pabani

Journalist, researcher and documentary filmmaker. Prior works featured in Dawn, Soch Videos and Pioneers Post.

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