Dubai: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced multi-billion rupees package to support the poor facing financial crunch in the wake of partial lockdown across the country to prevent coronavirus spread.
Prime Minister Imran once again ruled complete lockdown in the country. “The option of lockdown was first discussed at the National Security Committee (NSC) meeting but I opposed the complete lockdown which means curfew,” he said, adding that curfew is the last stage of lockdown and we do not want to go there as we are not doing that bad,” he explained.
Speaking to journalists in Islamabad on Tuesday, Imran said: “Fight against coronavirus is not a twenty 20 match and this crisis may continue for six or seven months so we have to take rational steps. We even have to prepare for curfew even if it is required in future.” He note that complete shutdown will disrupt the supply of food items and medical equipment.
Total seven deaths
Coronavirus cases in Pakistan are on the rise with the country recording a total of 916 cases and seven deaths till Tuesday, March 23. Sindh remains the worst-hit with 407 case, 110 in Balochistan, 265 in Punjab; 38 in KP, 80 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 15 in Islamabad and one in Pakistan Administered Kashmir
“I am so much concerned about the poor segment of the society as they will not be earn their living during a complete lockdown. Provinces need to think matters through before taking a decision,” he said referring to complete lockdown in Sindh and partial lockdowns in Punjab and Balochistan.
Imran noted that country is threatened more by panic than the novel coronavirus. He also refuted the impression that the government was not prepared for the crisis, claiming that administration has been reviewing the situation since January.
The Prime Minister also announced concessions and tax refunds for exporters and businessmen so that they don’t have to bear the brunt of a slowing economy. He also announced a Rs100 billion package for SMEs.
“We are also expanding the sphere of shelter homes and are also setting aside Rs50 billion for utility store to provide them basic commodity items on lower prices,” Imran Khan said.
Some major incentives of Prime Minister’s package
1. Pak Rs200 billion to support the labourers
2. Rs100bn worth of tax refunds for exporters and importers
3. Rs100 billion for small and medium industries
4. Rs150 billion package for poor segments of the society under which each household would be given Rs3000 for the next four months.
5. Petrol and diesel and kerosene prices slashed by Rs15
6. Deferred pacemen of utility bills for three months
7. Rs50 bn set aside for the purchase of medical equipment
8. Taxes to be reduced or abolished on food items
9. A special sum of Rs100 bn set aside for emergency to counter impact of the lockdowns.
The interior ministry on Monday issued a notification according to which Pakistan Army troops were deployed throughout the country to help tackle the spread of the coronavirus. The troops will help provinces in the fight against coronavirus and ensure that public follow the government orders to stay at home.
The government of Sindh imposed a provincewide lockdown on Sunday while the Punjab government decided to take important decisions to encourage social distancing and self-quarantine. The lockdown in Sindh was imposed for 15 days.
In Punjab, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar ordered the closure of all unnecessary shops and banned pillion riding. Section 144 was also imposed in the province to continue for 14 days starting March 23.
Pakistan could expect between 12.3 million to 18.5 million layoffs in different sectors of economy in the aftermath of a partial or complete shutdown due to the countrywide outbreak of the coronavirus, reported The News on Tuesday.
Three renowned economists belonging to the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), namely Dr Nasir, Naseem Faraz, and Mahmood Khalid, outlined their findings in a research paper.
Titled Sectoral Analysis of the Vulnerable Employed COVID-19 and Pakistan’s Labor Market, the study noted that all provinces in Pakistan were under lockdown to control the spread of the virus.
The paper highlighted three stages through which the impact of the virus on the economy could be understood. The average monthly loss of Stage-I was estimated at Rs22 billion, Stage-II at Rs187 billion and Stage-III at Rs261 billion every month.
Pakistan coronavirus cases update on March 24
Total cases: 918
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 38
Gilgit Baltistan: 80
Pak Administered Kashmir: 1