Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday 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.
The Prime Minister once again ruled out 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.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said 200 billion rupees have been allocated for the labour class to mitigate their sufferings, while the government is also reaching provinces and the business community to extend maximum facilitation in this regard.
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 noted that complete shutdown will disrupt the supply of food items and medical equipment.
Coronavirus cases in Pakistan are on the rise with the country recording a total of 916 cases and seven deaths till Tuesday, March 24. Sindh remains the worst-hit with 407 cases, 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.