Low-risk industries to resume activity across the country

ISLAMABAD: In a bid to fulfil demand and supply the daily essential commodities, the government has announced to resume low-risk industries amidst the COVID-19 breakout.

The decision was announced in a meeting of the parliamentary committee on COVID-19, which was presided over by National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser.

Federal Ministers and concerned members from all political parties in the parliament attended the meeting.

While briefing the meeting, Advisor to the PM on Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh explained the social and economic effects of the pandemic on the nation’s economy.

He informed that the COVID-19 has caused the country’s investment portfolio to decline by $1.4 billion, as both, exports and the flow of remittances were affected by the outbreak. This, in turn, will cause the GDP rate in the fiscal year 2020-21 to remain low.

Prior to the outbreak, foreign reserves were increasing and inflation had decreased in the month of February as the economy stabilised. The exports had increased by 3% and imports were down by 18%. The budget deficit had also reduced by 2.3%, he further added.

To deal with the ongoing crisis and revive the economy, the government has approved an economic stimulus package including relief incentives for the construction industry.

The relief packages announced by the government include a grant of Rs1.5 billion released by the federal government for the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

Tax relief on food items and medicines have also been granted to accommodate the general public, especially with the holy month of Ramadan approaching. The Utility Stores Corporation has been issued Rs25 billion.

In addition, Rs200 billion relief was allocated for the daily-wage workers.

The government has also given relief of Rs70 billion on the fuel prices.

 While the payment of gas and electricity bills were deferred, an energy relief fund worth Rs100 energy fund has also been established.

To accommodate the exporters, Rs100 billion relief was granted by the government, informed Advisor to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood.

A relief fund of Rs100 billion has also been approved to facilitate the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the agriculture sector.

Along with explaining the government’s top priorities to resume the low-risk industries, Federal Industries and Production Minister Hammad Azhar announced that the centre is also planning a strategy for wheat harvesting.

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