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Prime Minister Imran Khan has stressed upon the world leaders to forge a global response the coronavirus spectre.
Speaking at the Covid Action Platform of the World Economic Forum (WEF) via a video link, the prime minister on Wednesday said that Pakistan and other regional countries' experience was different from the Western countries' as unlike the West speed of spread was less but the developing countries were also facing the challenge of poverty along with the coronavirus.
He said that besides coronavirus, major challenge for Pakistan was how to mitigate the impact of lockdown on the people.
Khan said around 25 million people, who were either daily wagers, self employed work-charge, had become unemployed due to the lockdown.
As they were bread and butter earners for their families, this means that the lockdown affected 150 million people
The prime minister said that G20 countries had just come up with the policy of debt relief and a lot of developing counties were suffering because of the heavy debt problem.
He said they needed relief in debt repayment so as to have fiscal space to divert resources to health and environment.
He added that impact of Covid-19 on Pakistan's economy was very serious as exports were falling and remittances would also be affected because Pakistan relied a lot on remittance from the Gulf countries.
The prime minister further stated that the government geared up and a think tank was set up to suggest policy measures as how to get out of the situation; it also set up NCOC for corona situation by bringing all the stakeholders at one platform.
He said there were growing cases of coronavirus and the country had to be careful but at the same time there was need to save the people from starvation, and the government decided to ease the lockdown because it was not possible for the government to reach out to everyone.
"We came up with cash transfer programme and 15 million families were disbursed cash but this is only a short-term solution. We decided to ease lockdown, because in no way could the government reach so many people," he said.
Monitoring Desk adds: Prime Minister Imran Khan called upon the developed countries to provide debt relief to poorer nations that were struggling to cope with the coronavirus crisis that has battered their economies.
"The experience of the developed world is completely different to what we are facing in the developing world. Countries like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh - specifically the Indian subcontinent - our experience is somewhat different"
"The speed at which COVID-19 [the disease caused by the novel coronavirus] spread in Europe and the United States, we're not experiencing the same sort of speed.
"On the other hand, we are still facing rising number of cases and we still haven't reached our peak here" in Pakistan, he aded.
"From day one, the difference between, say, what we've seen in Europe and the United States - and, in fact, even in China - is that we had to face this twin challenge: one was to stop [and] stem the growth of the virus, hence, the lockdown.
"But the bigger challenge and increasingly in our country is how to mitigate the effects of lockdown on our population with the rising poverty.
"We, in Pakistan, we have 25 million workers who are either daily wagers or get paid weekly or are self-employed. When we [impose a] lockdown like the whole of the world to stop the spread of the virus all these people became unemployed.
"When we are talking about 25 million workers, we are talking about 25 million families. And actually it has affected around almost 120-150 million people [who] face stark poverty.
"Unless the men and the women work, they cannot feed their families. What my government did was we launched a cash programme and reached nearly 15 million families with cash transfers but this is only a short-term solution."
"Therefore, despite the raising cases in our country, we have decided to ease our lockdown and reopen our construction industry so that people can find employment because there is no way that the government can provide for all. The only way we can do that is by providing employment.
"The way forward that we have this year as a nation is that we realise that we have to live with this virus at least until a vaccine comes out and balances it. We have raised a volunteer force in this regard - of one million volunteers - who will help the administration as it is already overburdened and so are the law enforcement agencies.
"This volunteer force will encourage people not to have large gatherings and spread awareness among masses to follow the SOPs [standard operating procedures] necessary to stem the virus.
"Just before this pandemic hit us, we had managed to balance our twin budgets - the current account and fiscal deficit. After very tough reforms, we had thought of the growth of the economy.
"The coming year is not just a challenge for Pakistan but for the world. There has to be more interaction between the couturiers in dealing with this challenge so far.
When it hit the countries, they took unprecedented measures so every country looked inside and became insular. I feel that we are connected and the response has to be global.
"There has to be a way of picking up countries specially in the developing world. I have spoken to the Ethiopian prime minister, the Egyptian president, [and] the Nigerian prime minister [and] all of them are facing similar problems as us.
"Their exports are falling but also, additionally, we face the problem of falling remittances. Our country depends a lot on the remittance from the Gulf countries and due to the fall in oil prices that has had an effect on it.
"We have geared up and our economic think-tanks are mulling over how we are going to deal with the coming year.
"At the same time, we have developed a very good National Command and Control Centre [NCOC] and the whole idea is that we aim to balance the whole thing. They monitor where the cases are growing, how we are going to deal with them, isolate individual areas where there is fear of spreading, and, at the same time, how we can keep our economy going."
'Devastated lives and livelihoods'

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020