–Imran says govt will assure provision of food to poor, warns of strict action against hoarders and profiteers
–Punjab CM says 4,000 to be provided to 250,000 families; KP CM assures support to 1,900,000 families
–Firdous calls for national unity during crisis, says PM’s relief package will be extended to all provinces
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday vowed to take the nation into confidence on Monday and to announce a roadmap developed by the federal government to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Addressing the participants of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Core Committee’s meeting, the prime minister said that he has decided to employ all resources of the state to fight the pandemic. He said that one major concern for him was the provision of food and employment opportunities to the lower-middle class and poor segments of the society who have suffered a major hit in their income due to the lockdown situation.
Taking cognisance of the price hike amid lockdown, PM Imran said that there was no shortage of food items in the country but some profiteers were trying to create artificial shortage by hoarding commodities.
“I politely warn the hoarders and profiteers to shun this practice. If not, the government would take stern action as a last resort,” he said, adding that punitive actions may prove disastrous for the hoarders. He said that law enforcement agencies were ready to assist the state authorities.
The premier said that he does not take hasty decisions as such decisions backfire. He said that that difficult times and challenges test the mettle of the political leadership and he was taking all decisions after doing his homework.
He also said that he would take the people on board over the strategy and measures taken by the federal and provincial governments to counter the pandemic.
Minister for Revenue Hammad Azhar and Minister for Planning Asad Umar also gave detailed briefings about the economic situation in the country. Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza also briefed the participants about the government’s response to the pandemic.
The core committee also discussed the formation of “Corona Relief Tigers Force” with an idea to provide relief and food items to the people at their doorsteps. It was decided that PTI lawmakers, cabinet members, party’s central, provincial and district leaders would be included in the Corona Relief Tigers Force.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar also briefed the party leadership about the measures taken to counter the outbreak. He told the meeting that Punjab government had issued ordinance under which those violating the quarantine period would be subjected to jail for two months and anyone found doing it for a second time would be jailed for 18 months. Buzdar informed the meeting that his government has allocated Rs10 billion to provide Rs4,000 financial assistance every month to 250,000 deserving people in the province and those getting financial support from Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) would not be included in this list. The CM also informed the meeting that eight medical laboratories in the province would conduct coronavirus tests of 3,200 persons daily and recruitment process of 10,000 doctors and paramedical staff has been started in the province. He also informed that in case any doctor or paramedic dies during performance of his duties, he would be given the same package given to martyrs
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Mehmood Khan informed the committee members that his government has announced Rs11.40 billion package for providing financial support to 1,900,000 deserving families in the province. He told the meeting that province has allocated Rs32 billion to control spread of the pandemic and is also giving Rs5 billion relaxation on taxes and duties to various sectors. He further said that KP would provide additional Rs2,000 to each of ten lakh families getting financial support under Ehsaas Programme.
Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry told that his ministry was working on developing ventilators that cost $2500. He said that currently Pakistan was facing a shortage of ventilators as there were only 2,700 ventilators out of which only 1,500 were operational.
He said that the Ministry of Science and Technology was also working on developing its own kits for coronavirus testing and soon the country would have the capability to develop domestic kits.
Dr Babar Awan briefed the meeting about the legal measures being adopted to counter the violations of lockdown and quarantine period by suspected coronavirus patients.
‘NO DIVISION BETWEEN PROVINCES’:
Later, addressing the media, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the prime minister also made it clear that the packages announced by the federal government would also be extended to all provinces, even where PTI is not in power.
She said that the prime minister has renewed his pledge of ensuring delivery of ration and food supplies to deserving poor families across the country at their doorsteps. She also said that the premier trusts the country’s youngsters and wants to use the potential youth force volunteers to ensure the supply of food items to deserving people.
She further said that PM Imran informed the committee that the country was passing through a difficult time and there was need of unity among the masses to overcome the challenge posed by this pandemic. “PM Imran urged the party leadership to stand by the people in testing times and play a proactive role in resolution of their problems,” she added.
Dr Firdous said that due to ongoing lock down to prevent spread of coronavirus, national economy was being affected and chain of daily use items was slowed down. She said that the prime minister had advised Minister for National Food Security Khusro Bakhtiar to ensure the availability of food items, including wheat flour, so that there should be no shortage of such items. The SAPM also highlighted that there was no shortage of edible items in the country and the committee expressed the resolve to treat hoarders and profiteers with an iron hand.
She also said that that one-month salary as bonus will be given to doctors and paramedics, who will serve as frontline soldiers against coronavirus pandemic in the province. Personal protection equipment has been provided to doctors and paramedical staff attending coronavirus patients in Islamabad, AJK and GB and the same would be provided to other provinces as soon as possible, she added.
She further said that in National Coordination Committee (NCC) meeting on Monday, steps would be discussed to open supply of goods needed for opening industrial units and construction sector to save the poor labour class from starvation. She added that counter-strategy was needed to save labour class from unemployment.