ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday that people should feel some relief since the petroleum prices were decreased due to a global slump in demand amid the pandemic.

In a statement, the Prime Minister noted that inflation had previously risen in line with increases in the prices of petroleum products. “After the significant reduction in oil prices, it will be ensured that rates of other items are also decreased,” said the prime minister. PM Imran said that the government, with the cooperation of district administrations, will initiate action against illegal profiteering.

He said that prices of items will be brought down under any circumstances, and strict action will be taken against those who do not comply. The premier also directed the provincial governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to take measures for reducing inflation.

A couple of days ago, the government announced a major cut in fuel prices to provide relief to the masses amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to the notification, the price of petrol with effect from May 1st    was brought down to Rs81.58 after a reduction of Rs15 per liter. Meanwhile, the rate of high-speed diesel has been slashed by Rs27.15 per liter and reduced to Rs80.10.

Citing economic hardships, PM says country can’t withstand an extension in lockdown

The notification stated that kerosene oil and light diesel will now be sold at Rs47.44 and Rs47.51 per liter, respectively, after a reduction of Rs30.01 and Rs15 in their prices.

Reiterating that the country could not withstand an extension in lockdown because of economic hardships, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday categorically assured the nation that the donations in PM’s Relief Fund for COVID-19 will be transparently disbursed amongst the deserving families.

Speaking after launching a web portal to register and provide assistance to those who have lost their jobs due to lockdown, the Prime Minister said he is personally monitoring the relief fund and its details will be shared with the public after audit. 

Imran Khan said the government will contribute four rupees for each rupee donated to the relief fund. He said our aim is to reach out to the maximum number of people during

these testing times. Giving details of the web portal, Imran Khan said those who have lost jobs due to lockdown can get themselves registered on the ehsaaslabour.nadra.gov.pk to get the assistance of twelve thousand rupees. 

He asked the volunteers and Tiger Force to help these people and get them registered on the website. He said the registered people will be scrutinised and the cash assistance will only be given to the qualifying ones. He said the cash assistance will be given totally on merit irrespective of the political affiliations of the recipients.

The Prime Minister said eighty-one billion rupees have been disbursed under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program to 6.8 million poor and deserving families over a period of three weeks.

He said it is the first time in the country’s history that such a hefty amount has been disbursed in a short span of time. He added that the program would be taken forward.

Alluding to the opening of businesses in different parts of the world including New York, the Prime Minister said, “We have also decided to fully open the construction industry as it will provide job opportunities especially to the labourers. He said we have given unprecedented incentives to the construction industry.

Imran Khan said the government has also endeavoured to put minimum burden on the masses amidst coronavirus. He said we have substantially reduced the prices of petroleum products which are currently the lowest in the sub-continent. He said he has directed the provincial Chief Secretaries to ensure that the benefit of this decline in petroleum prices is also reflected in the prices of essential commodities.

The Prime Minister once again appealed to the people to demonstrate discipline and follow precautionary measures to support government’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus. He said those testing positive for the disease should quarantine themselves in their homes.

Speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr. Sania Nishtar said Pakistan is the first developing country, which has given immediate relief to its citizens affected by coronavirus pandemic.

Explaining the process of registration with the web portal under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, she said the second phase of the programme is focused on providing relief to labour class, who have lost their jobs due to ongoing lockdown.

In his remarks, Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar said the government has taken concrete measures to provide relief to small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

He said the government’s measures include reduction of the interest rate, unprecedented tax incentives for the construction sector and interest-free loan scheme for small businesses. Hammad Azhar expressed confidence that the government would pay the electricity bills for up to three months for small businesses whose consumption was between five to 70 kilowatts of electricity per month.