–PM says keeping economy afloat is essential to keep people from slipping into poverty
–Says a package will be announced for construction industry to provide employment to daily wagers
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said the government will announce a Rs100 billion package for the construction industry as the government tries to keep the country afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have decided we will give necessary incentives to the construction industry in order to provide job opportunities to people during this time of crisis,” PM Imran said while addressing a ceremony here.
“In America, they have to maintain a balance between coronavirus and the economy but in Pakistan, we have to do it between coronavirus and hunger,” he added.
“We will support the industrial sector and give them incentives. The commerce ministry has also prepared a list of industries which can be reopened in the current situation,” he said.
The prime minister added that the construction of roads and infrastructure does not entail the danger of the spread of coronavirus. “We will develop the necessary SOPs to ensure the safety of workers,” he assured.
He added that promoting industries and giving incentives to the business community was an important step in taking the country forward.
“The refund of Rs100 billion for the business community is a part of that process. We are ensuring timely refunds to the business community so that they do not face any liquidity issue,” he said.
He added the commerce ministry was in constant contact with the business community to figure out how the challenge posed by the epidemic can be overcome.
Speaking about the virus trajectory in the country, the prime minister said that Pakistan had not seen the virus blow up like other countries.
“I am confident that Pakistan will overcome this problem,” he said.
He added that weaker segments of the society were at greater risk due to the pandemic, which is why the government is trying to reach out to them under the Ehsaas programme.
“A cash grant of Rs12,000 each will be given to 12 million poor families to protect them from the negative impacts of the crisis,” he noted.
He also urged the public to avoid social gatherings during the lockdown as it was extended for two weeks to control the spread of the highly-contagious disease.
He further said that the country’s top leadership was evaluating the situation on daily basis and devising strategies accordingly.
In his address, Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said that the emergency cash programme announced by the government would benefit around millions of the poor people.
He said that the government has allocated Rs200 billion for the people whose earning has been affected by the closure of industries or other workplaces, Rs100 billion for employees and owners of small industries, and Rs100 billion for refunds to the businessmen, particularly the exporters.
He further said that the pending bills of gas and electricity would be payable during next three months and the government would bear the impact.
Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industries & Production and Investment Abdul Razzak Dawood said that the Drawback of Local Taxes and Levies (DLTL) had been pending for a long time but the incumbent government had decided to pay it without any delay to support the business sector.
He said that a package of Rs200 billion would also be announced soon which was in final stage of preparation to uplift the business sector.
The ceremony was also attended by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan.