Govt spending 1.25 trillion to address Covid-19 challenges: Hafeez Shaikh


ISLAMABAD, Mar 25 (APP): Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh Wednesday said that Rs1.25 trillion would be spent through multi-sectoral relief package aimed at addressing the ongoing challenges that emerged due to outbreak Covid-19 (Coronavirus).

Addressing a press conference, the advisor said that purpose of the package was to provide immediate relief to those who had been affected by the pandemic.

He was flanked by Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile and Industry Razak Dawood, Federal Minister for Economic Affiars, Hammad Azhar, Special Assistant to PM on Information and Broadcasting, Firdous Asiq Awan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Petroleum, Nadeem Babar and other officials of finance ministry.

He said that out of the total Rs1.25 trillion relief package, Rs 200 billion would be spent for providing relief to the daily wagers and labours by providing them Rs 3000 each per month in coordination with business community and provincial governments.

The Advisor said that the package also included Rs.100 billion for industry and exporters adding that the amount would be spent for resolving liquidity issues of business community by paying them refunds and deferment in interest or principal amounts.

For the agriculture and SME sector, the advisor said Rs.100 billion would be spent for deferment of loans; concessional loans and underwriting by government for creditor subsidy, adding that fertilizer would be subsidized to reduced its prices and facilitate farming community.

The Advisor said that Rs.1450 billion would be spent to provide relief to around 12 million vulnerable people by providing them Rs300 per month adding that earlier the government was provide relief to around 5 million whereas 7 million more have been included in the net keeping in view the effects of Coronavirus.

In addition, the Advisor said that the government was also expanding Panagah’s to provide immediate relief to very low income people.

The advisor said that Rs 50 billion would be given to Utility Stores Corporation (USC) to provide five basic edible commodities on subsidized rates including flour, pulses, sugar and ghee.

He said that the governed intends to spend Rs 280 billion to procure 8.2 million tons of wheat during the current season adding that this would help keep the inflation in check.

He said that reduction of oil prices was also part of the relief package as the prices of per liter petrol, diesel, kerosene, light diesel oil have been reduce by Rs15 each.

He said that the prices would not move upwards during next four months, however there are possibilities that these would go further down.

In addition, the advisor added that Rs36 billion (quantum relief) has been provided on electricity upto 300 units per month and Rs 2000 gas bill three monthly Installments.

In addition, Rs.15 billion would be incurred on tax break on health and food supplies while Rs.100 billion would be provided as Residual/Energy Fund and Rs.25 billion would be provided to National Disaster Management Authority  (NDMA).

Hafeez Shaikh said that the pace of spending through Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) would be further enhanced to generate overall economic activity whereas efforts were also being made for fund mobilization.

The advisor said that the economy of the country was moving on right direction as indicated by economic indicators adding that the exports were on rise whereas the current account deficit had also reduced from $20 billion to just $3 billion.

Likewise, he added, the government paid back loans of Rs4000 billion whereas the revenue collection had also witnessed 17 percent increase during first eight months and foreign exchange reserves of State Bank of Pakistan raised by $5 billion during the period.

He said that the primary balance had remained positive, which was rarely witnessed by the Pakistan economy in the past.

He said that the Covid-9 situation had put the economy on challenging path as it would not only affect the exports but would slow down domestic economic activities and thereby reduce tax collection.

He said that in this situation, the federation and the provinces would work in collaboration and adopt united strategy to come out the crisis and lead the country towards progress and development.