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Prime Minister Imran Khan, after launching a portal for registration of those who have lost employment due to lockdown so as to provide them cash support, Saturday said that the coronavirus pandemic might prolong for six months to a year, and therefore people need not to be carefree of precautionary measures. The prime minister shared details of the portal with the public, and stated that Rs12,000 cash disbursement would be made to those who have become unemployed due to coronavirus-related lockdown. The prime minister promised that cash assistance would be disbursed totally on merit irrespective of political affiliations. Khan said that so far the federal government had distributed Rs81 billion to 6.8 million families under Ehsaas Emergency Cash transfer to help the most vulnerable affected by the coronavirus, and the process that started three weeks ago was still ongoing.

The prime minister stated that those who had lost employment due to the lockdown in the country would be provided financial support of Rs12,000 from the Prime Minister's Covid-19 fund.

The web portal is being launched for registration of those who had lost jobs and urged the volunteers and Tiger Force to set up registration desk at UC-level to help them fill registration forms.

The cash would be transferred to those who would be found eligible after scrutiny.

The prime minister said that PM Covid-19 fund would be used transparently and would be subject to audit and use of the fund would also be made public.

He said that against each rupee donated to the fund, the government would contribute four rupees to help those who have lost livelihood due to lockdown.

Still, the prime minister said the government would be unable to reach out to everyone who had been affected by coronavirus and the lockdown.

He said that all the countries were now trying to open businesses, and New York, worst affected by the coronavirus with the highest death toll, had also decided to open construction activities because lockdown could not be continued for an indefinite period.

We have given historic incentives package to the construction sector and the industry, and decided to open the construction industry completely, the prime minister added.

He further stated that the government would contribute four rupees for each rupee donated to the relief fund.

He said our aim was to reach out to maximum number of people during these testing times.

The prime minister said that the government wanting to provide optimum relief to the people had decided to reduce petroleum products significantly during the last one month with Rs30 per liter in petrol, Rs42 per liter in diesel and Rs45 per liter in kerosene.

Prices of petroleum products are considerably lower in Pakistan compared to other regional countries, he maintained

The prime minister said that he also directed all the chief secretaries to make sure that lower petroleum prices impact was fully passed on to the general public in the form of decrease in the prices of essential commodities.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar said that so far under emergency cash programme, Rs83 billion had been disbursement during the last three weeks among 6.8 million families.

She also maintained that Pakistan had been the first country among developing countries that providing immediate relief to the people affected from this pandemic.

Nishtar also explained that this payment to the unemployed people would be made in the forth category through PM Covid-19 fund as in the first category was of Ehsaas Kifalat 4.5 million families had been disbursed and also 50 percent payment had also been made to those who had been selected through SMS for cash transfer, and third category was of those selected by the district administration of the provinces as well as the AJK and the GB.

Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar said that the government had taken concrete measures to provide relief to small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020