Pakistan Friday prayers
People attend Friday prayers along a road at a business area, after Pakistan eased lockdown restrictions, as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Karachi, Pakistan June 5, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

Islamabad: Around 3 million jobs are feared to be lost because of the novel coronavirus and the proportion of those living in poverty is also likely to increase from 24.3% to 33.5% due to squeezed economic opportunities in the wake of the pandemic outbreak.

Pakistan’s Finance Ministry on Friday in a written reply to the query of a member of the Senate revealed these figures which are based on the first phase of a survey by the ministry to gauge impact of coronavirus on the country’s economy.

Earlier, as the session started Senator Mushtaq Ahmed asked about the estimated loss to the economy, increase in budget deficit, debt and dollar value, and the government’s plan to cope with coronavirus challenge.

Negative impact on exports

While painting the gloomy picture of economy, the finance ministry shared that Pakistan exports migh fall to $22 billion (Dh80.80 billion) owing to low commodity prices and decreased economic activity in the United States, European Union, United Kingdom and the Middle East. Before the pandemic, they amounted to $25.5 billion (Dh93.66 billion).

Fiscal deficit to rises to 9.4%

According to the ministry’s reply, the fiscal deficit will also rise from the initial target of 7.5% to 9.4% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) due to revenue shortfall and increase in public spending. The industrial sector is the most adversely-hit area as it is likely to lose 1 million jobs while the remaining two million will be lost in the services sector, the written response of the ministry further quotes.

90,000 cases, 1,840 deaths

Pakistan on Friday reported 1,840 deaths and 90,000 cases of coronavirus with an increase of 4,738 new cases and 70 deaths in last 24 hours.

According to the Ministry of the National Health Services 22,812 tests were conducted across the country during the last 24 hours. Since the outbreak of pandemic in Pakistan, 638,323 coronavirus tests have been conducted. Sindh is so far the worst-hit province with 33,536 confirmed cases while Punjab comes second with its tally 33,141.

Traders arrested in Peshawar over SOPs violations

Fearing a further shoot up in the number coronavirus cases, police and district administration in various cities of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh have sprung to action taking into custody those found violating Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

Peshawar district administration arrested 385 people, mostly traders, and sealed several shops and superstores for not following the SOPs.

Bikes, cars deflated in Lahore

Punjab police also remained active all day on Friday, deflating tyres of motorbikes and cars whosedrivers were not wearing masks.

The city administration of Lahore has sealed over 100 shops and warned they might be arrested in case they continued with indifference to the government instructions.

Karachi commissioner directs strict action against violators

In Karachi too, Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani directed all the deputy commissioners of the city and district administration officials to visit markets and take action against the traders, markets and individuals for violating the SOPs.

In Sindh, all the marriage halls, indoor gyms, education centres, cinemas, beauty parlours, parks, sports clubs, training institutes, restaurants, café (except home delivery or take-away), hotels and tourist places are banned to open business.