ECC approves packages for unemployed labourers and small businesses

Web Desk
Federal Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar addressing a press conference in Islamabad. Photo: Screengrab

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar on Monday announced that the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has approved two packages for unemployed labourers and another package for small business owners.

Azhar, addressing a press conference after the ECC meeting, said that the packages will be presented before the federal cabinet tomorrow for approval.

The minister said a Rs75 billion package has been approved for the people unemployed due to the coronavirus crisis. He added that the Ehsaas programme, along with the Ministry for Industries and Production, will launch a portal to register those unemployed.

“Under the package, the unemployed will be provided with Rs12,000 in  installments,” said the minister. He added that the details of the package will be uploaded on the website after it is approved by the federal cabinet.

The minister, while sharing details of the package for small businesses, stated that the government will pay electricity bills for up to three months for those consuming 5 kilowatt (commercial customers) or 70 kilowatt (industrial customers) of electricity.

Also read: ECC to be presented small businesses package tomorrow: Hammad Azhar

"The package shall benefit 3.5 million small businesses," said Azhar. He added that to determine electricty consumption, data from the past will be used as a benchmark.

The minister stated that 95% of all commercial and 80% of all industrial connections in the country will benefit from the cash injection.

"These businesses are overwhelmingly of micro, small and medium scale," clarified the minister. He added that the sums deposited towards their bills will stay valid for upto six months. 

"The sum will be based on actual consumption and total payments made from the meter in the May, June, July 2019 period combined," said the minister.

The minister shared that the relief packages will be applicable across the four provinces, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. He added that the package will benefit 10.7 million households in the country, out of 60 million households total.

Last week, the ECC also approved Rs75 billion for targeted payments to low-income groups, especially labourers and daily wagers most severely affected by the lockdown in the country.

According to a statement released by the government, an estimated six million people are expected to benefit from the scheme in addition to the 12 million labour population already targeted through the Kifalat programme.

The amount was taken from the Prime Minister’s COVID-19 Relief Package of Rs200 billion, disclosed the government.

Also read: ECC approves Rs1,200bn coronavirus relief package

The approval for the amount was given during an ECC meeting chaired by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.

The Ministry of Industries and Production and the Poverty Alleviation and Social Sector Development Division are tasked to jointly work out comprehensive mechanisms and modalities to ensure a transparent and efficient disbursement of the support to the deserving people, the statement said.

It is pertinent to mention that last month, the federal cabinet has approved a Rs1.2 trillion total economic relief package.