Pakistan to ease lockdown owing to economic hardship faced by laborers: PM

ISLAMABAD; Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said Monday that the government has decided to gradually ease the COVID-19 related lockdown in the coming days as laborers and daily wagers are suffering due to economic hardship.

“Safety-based standard operating procedures (SOPs) have been designed for all the sectors in order to contain the spread of COVID-19 while resuming business activities in the country,” the prime minister said while talking to the members of national and provincial assemblies here.

He added that the elected representatives should play their role for implementation of the SOPs.

Khan said the government is providing succor to the downtrodden and underprivileged classes amidst the challenge posed by the novel coronavirus. “Despite many challenges, the government has given an economic package to help the poor segment of the society.”

He said the deserving families are getting cash assistance of 12,000 rupees in the most transparent manner.

Pakistani Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said that about 18 million people in Pakistan are feared to lose their jobs amid lockdown, according to local media.

About 70 million people in the country might fall below the poverty line, and over 1 million small businesses might be wiped out due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, local daily the Express Tribune quoted Umar as having said on Monday.

Umar said the lockdown is also hitting the country’s economy hard and the government has suffered a loss of 119 billion rupees due to the restrictions on business activities, in April alone, putting an extra burden on the government that has to run all its sectors including healthcare besides providing relief to the poor, according to the report.

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