ISLAMABAD                  -            The Federal Cabinet has decided to restore food goods transport in all four provinces keeping in view prevailing coronavirus situation.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told the media that Prime Minister Imran Khan and the whole Cabinet expressed their displeasure over delay in the implementation of the National Coordination Committee’s (NCC) decision taken in its last meeting, which restored the goods transport so that the supply chain of the daily use items was not affected.

She said the Sindh government so far has not fully implemented the NCC decision as all import items from abroad landed at ports in Karachi, where sufficient labor force was not available due to the lockdown to handle them.

SAPM said PM issued directives to the Rangers to remove hurdles in the movement of goods transport as early as possible to restore the supply chain of eatable items. She said the cabinet also expressed its dismay over indulgence of Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif in political point scoring at such a critical juncture.

She said the NCC took decisions in consensus with all the stakeholders as it had representation from all the provinces, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, and all the political parties. She urged the opposition to avoid politicizing the current situation and join hands with the government in its endeavor to contain the coronavirus.

She said the opposition leader was trying to use the coronavirus pandemic to keep him politically relevant, but the nation cannot afford such a divisive approach which could harm the fight against the coronavirus. She said Shehbaz Sharif should end his self-isolation at Jati Umra and join the fight against coronavirus and give practical proposals as it was not time to indulge in petty politics.

She said it was ironic that opposition leader was criticizing the health sector despite the fact that he remained in power for ten years in the biggest province of the country. The Sharif family should donate some of their assets to the fund set up by the government to support the people affected by the ongoing lockdown in the country, she added.

SAPM said the Federal Cabinet has also given approval of Prime Minister’s financial stimulus package to deal with the adverse impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on the country’s economy.

She further revealed that the Labour Ministry has been directed to prepare a strategy of complete registration of laborers in consultation with all provinces to ensure their social, health and job security. She said Special Assistant on Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar briefed the Cabinet about the mechanism of cash transfers worth 150 billion rupees to 12 million poor families across the country under Government’s Ehsaas Programme.

SAPM said the Prime Minister also directed to introduce reforms in PIA, FBR, and Pakistan Railways and to promote e-governance and terming Sukuk bonds vital for promotion of Islamic Banking. She said the government has decided to issue the bonds for three years duration.

A meeting of the National Coordination Committee’s will be held in Islamabad tomorrow to address prevailing situation of flour crisis in the country.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday directed the government to start the collection of data about facilities, including availability of testing kits and ventilators, from hospitals across the country. This information is to be made readily available to public.

Prime Minister issued these directives while chairing a meeting which reviewed the progress of steps taken for coronavirus prevention, diagnostic facilities, flow of raw materials for continuity of industrial processes, supply chain for delivery of items of daily use, and steps in the agriculture sector and implementation of National Coordination Committee’s decisions.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Economic Affairs Hamad Azhar, Minister for National Food Security Makhdoom Khusru Bakhtiar, Minister for Planning Asad Umar, Advisor on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Special Assistant on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant on Health Dr Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant Dr Moeed Yousaf, and Focal Person over Corona Dr Faisal Sultan among others

According to press statement issued by PM office media wing, Imran Khan directed the gathered participants to constantly inform the masses about every aspect of prevailing situation. He further directed them to ensure all possible relief to the general public on merit, saying that any discrimination in this connection will not be tolerated.

It was decided that government hospitals as well as private sector hospitals will be bound to allocate a number of beds and other facilities based on a specific ratio to corona-infected patients.

Briefing the Prime Minister, Chairman of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal said there were 14 corona testing laboratories on 13th of this month and now, 20 laboratories are fully functional across the country.

NDMA Chairman apprised the meeting that working is in progress to establish twelve more labs in the country. Minister for Economic Affairs Hamad Azhar briefed the Prime Minister in detail about the steps taken to ensure continuity of essential industries.

Advisor on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh briefed the prime minister about the implementation process of Rs1,200 billion economic package as announced by the government. The proposals for the improvement of the agriculture sector were also submitted and it was apprised that as result of the government’s decision over GIDC, and prices  of fertilizers had been reduced by upto Rs 400.

Special Assistant Dr Moeed Yousaf gave a briefing over the implementation of NCC’s decisions.