Coronavirus fallout could damage economic growth: Hafeez ShaikhAbdul Gh Lone 25 March 2020 0 COMMENTS
If not controlled, the spread of coronavirus could slow down economic growth, the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Economic Affairs, Hafeez Shaikh, said in a presser on Wednesday.
To successfully fight the deadly virus and its implications for the most vulnerable segments of the country, the federal government has announced Rs1.25 trillion in financial assistance.
These are the highlights of the press conference:
Rs200 billion allocated for the labour class who may lose jobs or have already lost them because of an economic slowdown caused by the nation-wide lockdown to fight coronavirus. These people will be identified with the assistance of provincial governments and the business community.
Rs150 billion will be distributed among 120,000 families at Rs3,000 per month for the next four months.
Rs50 billion were set aside for subsidized sugar, flour, ghee, rice and lentils through utility stores.
Rs50 billion will be spent on buying personal protection equipment for healthcare workers who are on the frontline of this fight against coronavirus.
The NDMA, which is leading the fight against coronavirus, will be given Rs25 billion in financial support.
Taxes on some food items will be lowered.
The capital value tax has been abolished to support the stock market, which has fallen to its lowest level in more than five years after crashing earlier this month.
To help exporters, the government will immediately release Rs100 billion in tax refunds. Since 25% of total export orders are still being processed and not cancelled by companies abroad.
Rs100 billion has been allocated for the SME sector to stimulate economic activity.
Another Rs100 billion has been allocated for the business community for any other issues that may arise in the coming days.
The government will spend Rs280 billion to buy 8.2 million tons of wheat from farmers to provide them an immediate cash injection (liquidity)
The price of petrol has been cut Rs15 and the government will maintain this level or even lower the prices further during the next three months.
To support consumers of gas, the government has extended the bill payment period and allowed consumers to pay their bills in installments over the next three months.
The PM’s adviser said federal and provincial governments are on the same page. For example, he said certain industries can’t be shut and therefore the government has ensured the police doesn’t stop their workers and any logistics involved in catering to these industries. He particularly highlighted the export sector and the movement of cargo trucks carrying export goods.