–The government would pay salaries to jobless workers and has earmarked Rs200 billion for this purpose, says Dr Firdous
–Verified applicants of PM’s Ehsaas Programme to begin receiving Rs12,000 rupees each from April 5
LAHORE: Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan has said that the government would open essential industries in phases to ensure that food-supply chain was not affected in the country.
Talking to media persons during a visit to a Quarantine Centre here at the Jinnah Hospital Lahore on Saturday, Dr Firdous said that the government was consulting the industry to chalk-out Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) regarding health and hygiene of workers before granting permission.
Responding to a question, she said that the government had earlier lifted the ban on goods transport for maintaining uninterrupted food supply whereas permissions for wheat reaping and allied industries were part of government’s efforts to save the country from impending economic challenges.
About the construction industry, the SAPM said that granting the construction sector industrial status was a decision aimed at providing jobs to unemployed labour in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, adding that the government had earmarked Rs280 billion for procurement of 8.2 million ton of wheat in the country to spearhead economic activity.
To another query, Dr Firdous said that she had visited the hospital on the instructions of Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan’s to show solidarity with the doctors, paramedics and other staff who were the first line of defence against coronavirus outbreak in the country, adding that the whole nation owed to the doctors and the paramedical staff.
To yet another question, she said that no world economy had any idea that COVID-19 would be this devastating, adding that even developed economies of the world had failed to foresee the coronavirus challenge.
She said that the premier had introduced an incremental lockdown while ensuring an uninterrupted food-supply chain, creation of a volunteer force and an adopted a proper mechanism in this regard.
About nonpayment of wages to workers during the lockdown, the SAPM said that the government was preparing a database of businesses which had not paid their workers during the first 14 days of the lockdown, adding that the prime minister had held meetings with office-bearers of chambers of commerce and mill-owners across the country.
“The government would pay salaries to jobless workers and has earmarked Rs200 billion for this purpose,” she said.
About support to those rendered jobless due to lockdown, she said that 16 million people had so far registered for financial support from the PM’s Ehsaas Programme, adding that data of 10 million applicants had been verified and they would be transferred Rs12,000 rupees each from April 5 while the remaining six million would get financial support after due process.
“A poor person getting Rs12,000 is unprecedented in our country’s history,” she said, adding that the federal government had set aside Rs150 billion for Ehsaas Programme, while the Rs10 billion financial packages by the Punjab government were a separate addition.
About the opposition’s role, she urged the need for political harmony in the country, adding that all political parties should work together to curb the deadly virus rather than remaining divided for petty interests. She said that coronavirus did not differentiate between political parties and workers; that is why all should put up unified efforts against coronavirus.
About the tiger volunteer force, she said it is volunteer force which is a necessity against a treacherous enemy like the coronavirus, adding that the tiger force was needed to ensure delivery of ration at the doorsteps of the needy as the situation was different from a flood or earthquake where people-to-people contact was not prohibited.
About distribution of ration to crowds, she called upon the wealthy to avoid such a situation as it could cause transmission of the virus among the healthy, adding that the ration should be distributed through volunteers at the doorsteps of the needy people at mohalla, town, village and tehsil level.
“People must adopt precautionary measures although doctors are there to treat the patients”, she urged.
Speaking about the ‘Stay home, Stay safe’ campaign, the SAPM said the government was doing its best to keep people indoors by providing the poor with sufficient food, emphasising the importance of philanthropy during this time.
She concluded by urging philanthropists to make donations to the Prime Minister’s Corona Welfare Relief Fund, adding that all the wealthy and affluent should come forward and provide for the needs of the needy during the lockdown.