Cannot continue with lockdown for long: PM Says public should feel relief brought by lower petroleum prices

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Staff Reporter

Islamabad

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday 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 said at the launch of a web portal supporting individuals rendered jobless due to the pandemic and receive Rs 12,000 under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash program.
“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 said the main aim of his government was to make sure the people of the country were not burdened.
“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. Speaking about the web portal, the prime minister said it will help those who have lost their jobs due to the lockdown.
“People can register on the website where their credentials will be checked,” he said. The prime minister also thanked everyone who had donated to the Corona Relief Fund, saying that 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.
He added, “We have brought a transparent system. For every rupee donated to the Fund, the government will give four times that to the needy. Through this Fund, we are trying to reach as many people as possible.”
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 discipline 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.”
He said that the second phase of this programme would benefit those who have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic. “They should go to this website and register themselves,” he said, adding that those who registered would have to prove that they were working at some organisation and when lost their jobs.
Giving details of the web portal, Imran said those who have lost jobs due to lockdown can get themselves registered on the ehsaaslabour.nadra.gov.pk to get the assistance of twelve thousand rupees. He asked the volunteers and Tiger Force to help these people get them registered on the website. He said the registered people will be scrutinized and the cash assistance will be given to the qualifying ones. He said the cash assistance will be given totally on merit irrespective of the political affiliations of the recipients.
The Prime Minister once again appealed to the people to demonstrate discipline and follow precautionary measures to support 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 have 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.