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The federal cabinet which met here yesterday, was briefed by the Minister for Planning, Asad Umar, about a survey recently conducted by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to ascertain the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on country economy. According to him, the survey revealed that 20 million population’s income was lost in April 2020 following the outbreak of Covid-19 but timely measures taken by the government and preference of “smart lockdown” over a “complete lockdown” as well as decisions to open construction and manufacturing sector helped revive the livelihoods of 20 million people.

Umar added the decision taken by the prime minister had helped revive the jobs of 95 percent affected people in a few months, after the coronavirus hit the country, subsequently, a decision was taken to open the transport sector.

The cabinet meeting was further told that during the lockdown, 80 percent of people’s earning was linked with the construction sector, 72 percent of people’s with the manufacturing sector while 67 percent of people’s employed in the transport sector.

The meeting was informed that during the onslaught of pandemic 47 percent of population’s earnings were exhausted, whereas 30 percent of people started taking loans.

The minister said the large-sale manufacturing sector grew by 14.5 percent in November 2020, which was the highest in the last 12 years, and timely measures and “smart lockdown” policy of the government had reduced their economic sufferings.

Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, while giving a comparative analysis of corona impact on the economies of Pakistan and other countries, stated that, Pakistan’s economy witnessed a negative 0.5 percent growth in the GDP, while the US economy recorded a negative 4.3 percent growth in the GDP during the last fiscal year.

He further stated that Sri Lanka’s GDP recorded a negative 4.6 growth, Iran’s negative five percent and India’s GDP witnessed 10.2 percent negative growth during the last fiscal year.

The prime minister said the government had to take difficult decisions on economic front soon after assuming power.

The prime minister encouraged civil service reforms and amendments in the PPRA rules and stated the ministries and divisions in the light of reforms should take measures to improve their performance.

The federal cabinet decided to give tax exemption on the profit earned from Euro-Bond and government international Sukuk bonds as well as the bonds issued in the market of China under Income Tax Ordinance 2001 Schedule.

The meeting also approved appointment of Ali Mehdi as chief executive officer of Pakistan Development Fund Limited under Public Sector Companies (Corporate governance) Rules 2013, and approved extension of the Pakistan Essential Services Maintenance Act 1952 on the employees of all classes of the Pakistan Petroleum Limited.

The federal cabinet decided to give financial award to the members of the core committee constituted by the Power Division on helping the country avert financial loss in investigation of rental power project and reconstituted the board of directors of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company.

The federal cabinet also endorsed the decisions of the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE) of January 7, 2021 and January 14, 2021, and the Cabinet Committee on Institutional (CCIR) Reforms of December 31, 2020.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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