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Print Print 2020-04-05

Construction industry: Package only 'good on paper': Ashfaque

Prime Minister Imran Khan's package for the construction sector is 'good on paper' but may be hard to implement because of the difficult economic situation in the country, consequent to the coronavirus outbreak.
Published 05 Apr, 2020 12:00am

Prime Minister Imran Khan's package for the construction sector is 'good on paper' but may be hard to implement because of the difficult economic situation in the country, consequent to the coronavirus outbreak.
This was stated by former adviser Ministry of Finance Dr Ashfaque Hassan and Dr. Kaiser Bengali former adviser Sindh government and economist.
"Package is very good on paper but timing of its announcement is not good, owing to the atmosphere of uncertainty and fear in the country that prevails due to the coronavirus outbreak," said Dr Hassan.
He further maintained that in a situation when the prime minister and the leaders of other political parties were holding meetings through video conferences amid fear of coronavirus, the chances of construction activities taking off were "bleak".
Dr Hassan said that no one knew how long this situation would remain, and the element of fear might take quite a long time to erase from the mind and hearts of the people adding that expecting that the construction activities would resume on a specified date would be a challenge as the government would require opening of 40 allied industries to make the sector operational and this means normalising the situation, he explained.
Qaiser Bengali said that he did not see the lockdown being lifted in the next couple of weeks, and the package was "just an announcement".
Economy does not work with packages, and the country's policies are not in the right direction, he lamented.
An official of the Ministry of Planning and Development, on condition of anonymity, stated that the timing of the package was 'very difficult' given that even public sector development spending had massively declined in March 2020 compared to February 2020.
The official said that total PSDP releases in February were Rs12 billion and declined to Rs900 million in the month of March 17, 2020, which meant that development spending had remained only one tenth of what was budgeted for the period.
The official said that the government had been trying to complete and finish work on development projects but no one was ready to work.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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