Islamabad: Pakistan’s whole-of-the-government approach to address the socio-economic damage induced by Coronavirus, and the country’s efforts to control the spread of the virus and its economic consequences, leading to better outcomes than most other countries, were globally applauded here Tuesday.
The platform was an international forum on ‘Coping with COVID-19: The Pakistan Experience,’ organized Tuesday by the Centre for Global Development, a high-level global thinktank. The event brought together Minister for Planning, Development, Reforms and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, Special Assistant to the PM on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr. Sania Nishtar, and Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan Dr. Reza Baqir to exhibit the success of the Pakistan’s smart lockdown strategy and Corona relief package tackling COVID-19 restrictions.
The three panellists were virtually joined by Dr. Kalipso Chalkidou from the Global Health team at CGD and Dr. Alan Gelb, who leads a work stream on the use of digital ID systems for safety nets in Pakistan and other countries. To foster local engagement, the CGD joined hands with CDPR, the Pakistani economic research consortium.
Asad Umar highlighted the government’s response to COVID-19 crisis. He shared details of the smart lockdown strategy that brought Pakistan into the list of ranked countries who successfully confronted COVID-19. He attributed this success to well-coordinated decisions taken in a timely manner with consensus.
Sharing the Ehsaas Emergency Cash experience, Dr. Sania said, “To mitigate the socioeconomic damage from the pandemic, Pakistan launched the largest social-protection programme in its history. Rolled out 10 days after the lockdown began, it is delivering one-time cash grants totalling more than $1.2 billion to 15 million households, covering approximately 50% of the country's population. Recipient families are given 12,000 rupees (US$75) to cover immediate subsistence needs.”
Continuing, Dr. Sania said, “The legacy of the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme goes beyond short-term relief. Built into its design are long-term goals to strengthen the safety net and increase financial inclusion, both of which will bring lasting benefits to recipients and to Pakistan as a whole.”
Discoursing the overall macroeconomic impact in the context of COVID-19, Dr. Reza Baqir shared policies of the government to support economic activity amid COVID-19 that helped contain the huge damage that could otherwise have been caused.