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May 3, 2020

No one knows how long corona will linger on: PM launches package for jobless

Top Story

May 3, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday announced launching of a web portal for the second phase of Ehsaas cash programme to help those who had lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Launching the web portal here, the prime minister said those who had lost their jobs due to the lockdown should visit the website and register themselves. He said those who want to get themselves registered will have to provide evidence of the organization they were enlisted to work before losing jobs.

Imran reiterated that the country could not sustain a prolonged lockdown, as labourers and daily wagers are suffering. He said no one knew how long the virus will last “The entire world is trying to restart its economy. “The biggest issue is of livelihood, as the lockdown has massively impacted the economy and people,” he said. He said the more the industries function, they would generate more livelihood opportunities. Places like New York where thousands are dying have also decided to reopen their industries,” he said. “Even rich governments are reopening because they realize they cannot keep the country under lockdown for long. This is why we have decided to open up 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 said the main aim of his government was to ensure the people were not burdened. The government, Imran noted, did not try to earn more revenue when oil prices had plunged instead it tried its best to pass minimum burden to the people. He said since the price of petrol was slashed, prices of everything should fall as well.

“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,” Imran remarked. He said the prices of petroleum products were the lowest in Pakistan and noted that now per litre petrol price in the country was Rs81 per litre, Rs153 in India, Rs170 in Bangladesh; likewise, diesel price here is Rs80 and Rs126 in India.

Speaking about the web portal, the prime minister said it will help those who had lost their jobs due to the lockdown. “People can register on the website where their credentials will be checked,” he said and added they could register themselves on the ehsaaslabour.nadra.gov.pk to get assistance of Rs12,000. He asked the volunteers and the Corona Tiger Force to help them get registered on the website.

The prime minister also thanked everyone who had donated to the Corona Relief Fund, saying he himself was monitoring the Fund and its resources. “I want to thank all those who have donated to the Fund. All the money will be audited and everything will be told to the nation,” the prime minister said.

In this regard, Imran referred to the transparent way funds were collected and used with regard to the Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital and NAMAL University. He said if someone would contribute Re1, the government would donate Rs4 to reach out to maximum number of people, affected by the lockdown. “We have brought a transparent system. Through this Fund, we are trying to reach as many people as possible.” He added it was unfortunate to say but it is impossible for the governments of any country to reach out to all the people in need of help.

He continued, “The public needs to work with the government to combat the virus. They [public] need to take precautionary measures. If I had tested positive, it would have been my responsibility to make sure I self-isolated and quarantined.” “The public needs to play its part in this fight against coronavirus,” PM Imran said. “We do not know when a vaccine for the virus will be made available. If we have to live with this for the next six months or a year we need to have a plan. “The more disciplined we are the more easily we would be able to defeat it. The public needs to practice social distancing on their own. We cannot force them to do anything.”

Speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant to the PM on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr. Sania Nishtar said Pakistan was the first developing country, which had given immediate relief to its citizens affected by the coronavirus. Explaining process of registration with the web portal under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, she said the second phase of the programme was focused on providing relief to the labour class, who had lost their jobs due to ongoing lockdown amid coronavirus pandemic.

Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar said the government had taken concrete measures to provide relief to small businesses affected by the coronavirus, owing to the lockdown. He said the government's measures include reduction of interest rate, unprecedented tax incentives for the construction sector and interest-free loan scheme for small businesses. The minister said 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.