–Imran launches web portal to support those rendered jobless due to pandemic
–Says relief fund donations will be disbursed transparently, audit to be made public
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday said that he had directed the provincial chief secretaries to ensure that the benefit of the decline in petroleum prices is reflected in the prices of essential commodities used by the people, as he launched a relief programme for those who lost jobs due to coronavirus pandemic.
“The government is making efforts to put minimum burden on the masses amidst coronavirus lockdown,” Imran said after inaugurating a web portal for those left unemployed due to the pandemic.
“This is why we brought down petrol prices by Rs30. Earlier we brought the price of diesel down by Rs27. Even India does not have these low prices,” PM Imran remarked.
He added that since the price of petrol was slashed, prices of everything should fall as well.
PM Imran said that he is personally monitoring the Corona Relief Fund and assured people that the fund would be utilised in a “transparent manner”. He also promised to make the details of the fund’s audit public.
Imran said the government will contribute four rupees for each rupee donated to the relief fund. “Our aim is to reach out the maximum number of people during these testing times.”
Giving details of the web portal, Imran Khan said those who have lost jobs due to the lockdown can get themselves registered on ehsaaslabour.nadra.gov.pk to get the assistance of Rs12,000. He asked the volunteers and Tiger Force to help these people in registering their names on the website. He said the registered people will be scrutinized and the cash assistance will be given to the qualifying ones irrespective of their political affiliations.
The prime minister said that Rs81 billion have been disbursed under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program to 6.8 million poor and deserving families over a period of three weeks. He said it is for the first time in the country’s history that such a huge amount has been disbursed in a short span of time. He added that the programme would be taken forward.
Prime Minister Imran reiterated that the country could not sustain a prolonged lockdown as labourers and the daily wagers were suffering.
“The entire world is trying to restart its economy. Places like New York where thousands are dying have also decided to re-open their industries,” PM Imran.
“Even rich governments are reopening because they realise they cannot keep the country under lockdown for long. This is why we have decided to open our construction industry,” he said.
“Never in the history of this country have we given such huge incentives to the construction industry as we have done now,” he noted.
The prime minister once again appealed to the people to demonstrate discipline and follow precautionary measures to support the government’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus. He said those testing positive for the disease should quarantine themselves in their homes.
Speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar said Pakistan is the first developing country which has given immediate relief to its citizens affected by coronavirus pandemic.
Explaining process of registration with the web portal under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, she said the second phase of the programme is focused on providing relief to labour class who lost their jobs due to ongoing lockdown amid coronavirus pandemic.
In his remarks, Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar said the government has taken concrete measures to provide relief to small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic
He said the government’s measures include reduction of the interest rate, unprecedented tax incentives for the construction sector and interest-free loan scheme for small businesses.
Hammad Azhar expressed the confidence that the government would pay the electricity bills for up to three months for small businesses whose consumption was between five to 70 kilowatts of electricity per month.
Some of the other measures include reducing the interest rate and “unprecedented tax incentives for the construction sector”, he said, adding that the government would also bring an interest-free loan scheme for small businesses.