Wednesday Apr 15, 2020
ISLAMABAD: Decisions regarding the coronavirus are taken keeping in mind 210 million people and facts on the ground are taken into consideration, said Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar.
Outlining the need for a balance between containing the coronavirus from spreading and also ensuring economic activity across the country does not come to a halt, Umar said that it was important to keep in mind those who were facing hardships due to the lockdown.
"We are trying to present the facts in front of you [masses] with honesty," he said. "We have to take decisions for the betterment of 210 million people," he added.
The minister said that the prime minister was particularly concerned about the thelawalas, tailors, workers, labourers and other daily wagers who were bearing the brunt of the lockdown. He said that there were concerns among the masses regarding the lockdown but facts had to be taken according to the situation.
"Decisions are taken keeping in mind the facts on the ground," he said, adding that people should not compare other countries with Pakistan as the situation regarding the coronavirus was different in each country.
"If you give me the responsibility to make decisions for Germany and Pakistan [about coronavirus], I'll take different decisions," he said. "Me, one person, will take two different decisions. This is because the situation on the ground in the two countries is quite different," he added.
Umar said that the basic direction of the country should be the same. He said that chief ministers of all provinces and other stakeholders take part in the National Coordination Committee meetings and present their recommendations.
"The direction we take should be the same and decisions should be taken with consultation," he said. "It is my opinion that provinces and even district administrations should be allowed flexibility to take decisions according to the situation," he added.
The minister said that once the pandemic was over, people can argue with one another about which steps taken by the government were correct and which were not. "For the time being, the need of the hour is that we battle this global problem with unity and let me tell you that it is happening to a great extent," he added.
Umar said that Rs35bn have been given to more than 2.8 million people according to the Ehsaas Programme.
Earlier today, Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah had once again called for the provincial and federal governments to get on the same page to tackle challenges arising out of the coronavirus epidemic in the country.
“During our meeting with the federal government yesterday, we asked for a uniform policy to deal with the situation,” Shah had said while addressing a press conference in Karachi.
“It was decided in yesterday’s meeting that the lockdown in the country would be extended for 14 days. All the provinces were unanimous in the decision that the lockdown should be extended” he had said.
The chief minister added that there were some issues, however, that the provinces and the federal government did not agree on.
“Some provinces and the federal government agreed that some essential workplaces should reopen. We did not agree to open shops for barbers, plumbers, electricians etc,” he said.