Pakistan walking a ‘tightrope’ to ensure balance between lockdown and economy: PM

Pakistan needs to ensure its people do not die of hunger amid the lockdown, says the PM

Prime Minister Imran Khan. Photo: File

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Saturday Pakistan is walking a ‘tight rope’ to strike a balance between a lockdown necessary to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and ensuring its people do not die of hunger and the economy does not collapse.

The prime minister, taking to Twitter, said that the incidence of poverty is high in the sub-continent and Pakistan needs to be aware of its people and their situation.

"In the subcontinent, with a high rate of poverty, we are faced with the stark choice of having to balance between a lockdown necessary to slow down/prevent the spread of COVID19 & ensuring people don't die of hunger & our economy doesn't collapse. So we are walking a tightrope," he tweeted.

Simultaneously, the prime minister noted that the government has locked down the educational institutions, malls, marriage halls, restaurants and other places of congregation.

“But, to stop the devastation of the lockdown we have kept our agri sector open & now we are opening up our construction sector,” he mentioned.

The construction industry employs a large chunk of the daily wager workforce.

A day earlier, the premier had announced a relief package for the construction sector, saying that it was necessary to maintain 'a balance' between the lockdown and economic activity.

PM Imran said that persons or entities who invested in the construction sector this year will not be asked about their source of income. "The government has decided to agree to the demand of the construction sector and has introduced a fixed tax," he said. 

Details: PM Imran announces incentives for construction sector

"This [move] will bring down the amount of tax to be paid. Also, if the investment is for the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme, we will exempt 90% of the tax on it," he said.

The prime minister had made the revelation while speaking to media after chairing a meeting at the National Command Centre office. The premier announced a set of incentives for the construction sector, saying that his main objective was to provide employment to labourers so that they can be saved from "hunger and the coming difficult circumstances."

Despite provinces invoking provincial autonomy by going forward with stringent measures such as lockdown, the prime minister has time and again raised objections to a complete, nation-wide lockdown, citing fear for the poor and their sustenance.