Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday announced a huge relief package aimed at providing financial support to the different sectors of economy affected by the economic slowdown unleashed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) all over the globe.
During an interaction with media persons, the prime minister said the government had decided to allocate Rs 200 billion for the labour class, which had been hit hard in the difficult times.
To help the industrial sector and especially the export sector, it was decided to release tax refunds amounting to Rs100 billion, besides, deferring of the interest payment to bolster this sector, he added.
For the small and medium industry, and agriculture sector, another amount of Rs 100 billion was set aside with deferred interest payment, the prime minister said, adding concessional loans would also being extended to the sectors. The government wanted to bring down the input costs for the farmers.
Other packages, he said, included additional amount of 50 billion for the Utility Stores, Rs 280 billion for the wheat procurement, slashing of petrol and diesel prices by Rs15 per liter for which the government would have to bear the burden of Rs75 billion. An amount of Rs100 billion was allocated separately for the emergency situation, he added.
The prime minister said power consumers using 300 units and gas users with Rs 2,000 monthly bills would be facilitated to deposit their bills through three monthly installments. A sum of Rs 50 billion was also allocated for the medical staff. The National Disaster Management Authority would get Rs 25 billion for purchase and procuring of kits, he announced.
Imran Khan said for the vulnerable families who were bearing the brunt of the difficult time, it was decided to allocate an amount of Rs 150 billion for a period of four months.
He said they were also expanding the network of Panagah (shelter houses) where the precautionary measures had been strictly practised.
Besides, he said, it was decided to either completely cut taxes or reduce them on different edible items.
For the construction industry, the government would announce a separate package within days, which, he promised, had never been witnessed in the country’s history. Reiterating that the country could not afford a complete lockdown with the imposition of curfew, the prime minister said the situation in the country so far did not warrant for resorting to that last step.
However, he added, the government would review the situation after a couple of weeks. The provincial governments after the 18th Constitutional Amendment could take their decisions while the role of the Federal Government was only that of an advisory, he replied to a query.
The Federal Government, he said, could only give guidelines but could not direct the provinces against their decisions. The provincial governments could react to a situation, but should also give consideration to the evolving situation.
“God forbids, nobody knows the evolving situation, which might also compel us for the imposition of curfew after two weeks,” he added.
Advisor to the PM on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Minister for Food Security Khusru Bakhtiar, Advisor to the PM on Health Dr Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to the PM on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, and NDMA Chairman Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal were also present on the occasion.
Comparing the situation in Spain, Italy, France and other European countries, the prime minister said with about 900 cases in Pakistan, the government team had been taking cognizance of the evolving situation regularly.
Enforcing a curfew would lead to complete halting of transport, which could badly affect the food and medical supplies.
__PM Imran Khan
Such steps could have strong damaging effects upon the society and economy, especially on the downtrodden or the poor class, who had been living in clusters in the Katchi Abadis.
The prime minister differentiating between the lockdown and curfew also shared his concerns that the evolving situation of the COVID 19 outbreak could stretch over to six months.
“Whatever decisions the government take, I am fully responsible for them. All the economic decisions are being taken with the consensus of my economic team,” he added.
To another question, he regretted that the economic situation had been improving in the country as the macroeconomic indicators witnessed rising, but the COVID 19 outbreak cast unintended consequences upon the economy. The year 2019 had been the most difficult time of his life, he added.
The prime minister, to a question, replied that in case of emergency, the country would require a volunteer force comprising the youth, besides creation of funds. The youth and overseas Pakistanis would be tapped in such like scenario.
Dilating upon the issue of complete lockdown, he further regretted that confusion and impression had been created in the country. Taking wrong decisions at the current critical stage was more dangerous than the spread of coronavirus, he warned.
The prime minister said the government was extra cautious in taking certain steps, which should benefit the country and the nation. During the first National Security Committee meeting, when the country had reported just 21 cases, the gradual lockdown started with the closure of the schools, besides stoppage of public gatherings.
In the past, decisions were taken for the interests of the selected elite class and there were different systems for different classes, he said and regretted that the same response was being also witnessed in the country over the coronavirus.
The prime minister said it was a collective fight of humanity and a single government could not fight it alone.
The public response to the government’s measures like those witnessed in China was vital for achieving the objectives, he stressed and urged the nation to fully cooperate with the government’s calls to control the spread of the Pandemic .
No nation aspires success sans sacrifices: PM Imran Khan
Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that without spirit of sacrifice, a nation could not aspire to achieve development as the very human essence had a global significance.
In a message on Eid-ul-Azha 1442 Hijra, the prime minister conveyed his felicitations
to the whole Pakistani nation and the Muslim world.
The prime minister said sacrificing an animal on this holy festival manifested that a person has to sacrifice human desires for the achievement of the highest ideals.
Such a passion generated a quality in humans that would not let them side-track from the right path, he observed.
The prime minister opined that it was the passion which helped the Pakistani nation to save itself from the global coronavirus pandemic with wisdom, national strategy and patience.
The prime minister noted that celebration of Eid-ul-Azha reminded them of the unprecedented and supreme sacrifices of Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) and Hazrat Ismail (AS). Allah Almighty liked their act of sacrifice so much that it was declared an obligation for the rest of the Ummah to perform till the Day of Judgement.
The prime minister further said that economic situation with which the country was confronted, had been changing now.
The country’s economy was put on the right track and as a result of government’s steps, the economic indicators were showing positive trajectory, he added.
The prime minister said through different schemes launched by his government, the people were being provided with relief.
The day was not far, he resolved, when Pakistan would be standing equally in the ranks of developed countries and the whole nation would feel pride among the comity of nations.
President Dr Arif Alvi Stresses the need of Adopting Standards in Service Delivery
President Dr Arif Alvi has stressed the need to adopt international standards of facility and building management by Government organizations for better service delivery, increased efficiency and ensuring cost-effectiveness. He expressed the hope that that documentation of all facility management tasks of Aiwan-e-Sadr, in line with ISO-41001 standards, would enhance efficiency and prolong the lifespan of physical assets of the Presidency.
The President made these remarks while chairing a meeting on “Adopting ISO Standardized Practices”, at Aiwan-e-Sadr, today. The meeting was attended by senior officials of Aiwan-e-Sadr. Addressing the meeting, the President affirmed the resolve to make Aiwan-e-Sadr a role model for other Government organizations in adopting sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.
He added that Pakistan was being affected by climate change and the country needed to adopt renewable energy technologies, and sustainable water and land management techniques to overcome the harmful effects of climate change.
Expressing satisfaction over the adoption of ISO-50001 Energy Management System (EMS) at Aiwan-e-Sadr, the President said that EMS would not only save Rs 32 million annually but would also reduce energy consumption by 31.2%.
He stated that the recently inaugurated 01 MW Green Presidency Solarization Project would meet all the energy requirements of Aiwan-e-Sadr, besides contributing surplus energy to the National Grid. He said that Pakistan’s Presidency was one of the few in the world which was fully operating on Green Energy technology.
PM says Tarin’s appointment aimed at boosting growth, containing inflation
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said cartels and monopoly as witnessed in the case of sugar mills resulted in inflation. The appointment of Shaukat Tarin as finance minister aimed at controlling inflation and increasing the growth rate. The prime minister made these remarks in a live telephonic call session with the general public. This was the third such interactive session titled ‘Aap ka Wazir-e-Azam, Aap ke Sath’, where the prime minister took questions from people through live phone calls and responded to questions.
On petroleum prices, he said the government had kept the price of commodity lower as compared to India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, China, United States, Turkey, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Bhutan so as to avoid burden on consumers.
Worldwide, he said, the prices of commodities went up during the pandemic, including gas by 60 percent, food 29 percent, metal 41 percent, crude oil 84 percent, cotton 44 percent, palm oil 54.8 percent, soya bean oil 36.6 percent and sugar 14.5 percent. According to a Bloomberg report on food inflation and agricultural sub-index, Pakistan still kept the prices low, he added.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said with solid steps, the government had achieved remarkable economic growth in diverse sectors.
Through reforms the economic losses of public corporations had been reduced from Rs 286 billion to Rs 143 billion, the current account deficit remained in surplus for the last 10 months and the foreign exchange reserves increased to $15.6 billion.
“During the pandemic situation when the whole world is facing financial crunch, our government has saved the economy,” he said.
He acknowledged that the financial assistance from Saudi Arabia and China also helped Pakistan gain the economic stability.
Imran Khan said now the rupee had strengthened against dollar at Rs 152, exports increased by 13.5 percent, the Euro bond helped gain $2.5 billion and the revenue of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) rose by 11 percent.
The textile and cement industries, he said, witnessed a boom, while the local car manufacturing was recorded at 18 percent. The Pakistan Stock Exchange showed a bullish trend by 66 percent increase as per Bloomberg and the information technology exports increased by 44 percent.
Imran Khan said incentives in the housing sector had encouraged economic activity and the banks were offering loans for the construction of houses. He acknowledged the role of courts in the passage of foreclosure law of banks, which, he said, had greatly helped in materialization of the low-cost housing project.
Responding to a caller who complained about delay in a housing project for government employees in Bhara Kahu (Islamabad), he advised his staff to note the matter for further pursuance.
To overcome issues of water shortage and sanitation, he said the government was making master plans of cities and had also allowed vertical construction to maximum accommodate the population. Imran Khan said lack of planning and civic infrastructure had led to improper expansion of metropolitan cities. Dams were being constructed to overcome water scarcity, he said, adding a special arrangement for water supply to Islamabad was in progress.
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