| Imran Khan calls for balance between corona control measures, livelihood of people | Asad says smart lockdown policy to continue during 2nd virus wave | Hammad says package will make Pakistan’s industry competitive in world market

ISLAMABAD    -  Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday announced a comprehensive package to provide electricity to industries at reduced rates.

Announcing the package in Islamabad this afternoon, he said small and medium industries will get additional electricity on 50 percent reduced rates from first of this month till 30th of the June next year.

For example, if an industrial unit would buy electricity at a rate of 16 rupees per unit and now it will get the same on fifty percent discount on consuming additional electricity. He said it has also been decided to provide additional electricity at 25 percent discounted rates to all the industry, including big and small unites, for next three years. He said the electricity will be provided to the industry on off-peak hours’ basis throughout the year.

The Prime Minister said it was unfortunate that our industrial products could not compete with other countries due to expensive electricity as a result of costly power agreements signed by the previous governments. He said this package will reduce cost of production, enhance Pakistan’s exports, and create wealth. He said due to prudent economic policies of the government, a record sale of cement, motorcycles, and cars have been witnessed, whereas our construction sector is also progressing at a great pace.

The Prime Minister said Pakistan’s exports have increased with a great pace in the subcontinent in the wake of COVID-19.

He appealed the people to strictly observe all Standard Operating Procedures, including wearing face masks, frequently washing hands, and maintaining social distancing, to prevent spread of the contagion.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Power Division Omar Ayub said 70 percent of our electricity was being produced on imported fuel, while PTI government has formulated a well-coordinated plan to improve energy mix. He said 30 percent of country’s energy mix will comprise renewable energy by 2030 and we have planned to generate 70 to 80 percent of our electricity through our own resources, including solar, wind, coal, and hydel. 

Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar said it has been government’s consistent resolve to reduce cost of production in Pakistan on Tuesday federal cabinet approved the package to slash power tariff in the country. He said the package will make Pakistan’s industry competitive in the world market. He said Pakistan’s growth rate is in positive domain, when it is minus four percent the world over due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Talking about post COVID economic situation in Pakistan, Minister for Planning Asad Umar said smart lockdown strategy yielded positive results and the entire world acknowledged this achievement of Pakistan. He said it is top priority of the government to keep rolling wheel of the industry and to protect people of Pakistan from coronavirus.

Finance Advisor Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh said the economy of the country is now stable due to bold initiatives taken by the government.  He said we also declined expenditures of civil and military institutions while several packages for SMEs were announced to boost economic activities in the country.

The Advisor said over 1000 billion rupees tax has been collected during last four months.  He said 90 percent tax exemption was given to construction industry.

He said trade deficit declined to zero from 120 billion rupees while allocation for Ehsaas program has been increased from 100 to 192 billion rupees. He said merged areas of erstwhile FATA are being given 152 billion rupees. He said repayment of 5,000 billion rupees was also made while the government did not take any loan during June to November this year.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday ruled out any possibility of imposing another full-scale lockdown to cope with second wave of Coronovirus and directed all stakeholders to ensure balance between corona disease control measures and livelihood of people.

The prime minister while chairing meeting of the National Coordination Committee on COVID-19, particularly directed for ramping up hospital care to cater for any rise in Covid cases particularly critical care equipment. Imran Khan directed National Command and Operation Centre to formulate future course of action in consultation with all stakeholders and issue necessary guidelines.

NCOC apprised the Prime Minister about current Covid situation and current pattern of disease spread and increasing positivity ratio. The Prime Minister appreciated efforts of NCOC and all stakeholders for public safety and health.

The meeting endorsed all measures of recently announced measures of NCOC including implementation on wearing of face mask; reduce timings of closing of markets, restaurants, marriage halls, and enforcement of smart lockdowns. Provincial Chief Ministers joined the meeting through video link.

Also, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar Tuesday said the government would continue its smart lockdown policy during second wave of the COVID-19 without putting additional pressure on the common man.  

“Smart lock down and protecting employment opportunities at the same time was hallmark of the government strategy during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said while accompanying Prime Minister Imran Khan during a briefing on power relief package here. He said the government would also adopt the same strategy during the second wave so that the economic activities should not get affected.

He said the government had adopted the comprehensive strategy for the early revival of local industry in post Covid-19 pandemic scenarios.

Due to such prudent strategies of the government, he said the local economy was rapidly reviving as compared to the other countries of the world.     

The minister said that for the first time in the country’s history, the government had decided to announce energy prices for the industrial sector for next three year through a better future strategy.

The minister said that lowering the energy prices and reducing the cost of doing business was the part of government reforms for the growth of the industrial sector in the country.

He said that cheap and competitive energy prices would positively impact on different sectors of the economy, especially providing a level playing field to the industry for completing the regional player.

While giving the message to the industrial sector, he said that now the government has offered a huge opportunity to the local industrial sector to get benefit from the current reform package provided by the government.

On the other hand, at least 14 more people died in Pakistan while 1,167 more tested positive of COVID-19 during the past 24 hours, according to the officials.

The overall tally of positive cases has jumped to 336,260 while nationwide toll of fatalities surged to 6,849 on Tuesday. According to the latest figures displayed on National Coronavirus Dashboard of the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), 1,167 persons have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 24 hours besides it has confirmed 14 deaths across the country. With 146,774 infections of COVID-19, Sindh remains the worst-hit province by the pandemic in terms of cases followed by Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad.

Till now 146,774 Coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Sindh, 104,894 in Punjab, 39,749 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 20,243 in Islamabad, 15,977 in Balochistan, 4,330 in Azad Kashmir and 4,293 in Gilgit-Baltistan. So far, a total of 6,849 persons have died of the pandemic out of which 2,633 individuals lost their lives to the epidemic in Sindh, 2,372 in Punjab, 1,280 in KP, 152 in Balochistan, 222 in Islamabad, 92 in GB and 98 in Azad Kashmir.

Punjab reported another 340 cases, seven fatalities during the last 24 hours. The provincial death toll now stands at 2,372. Balochistan’s Covid-19 tally has risen to 15,977 after 23 more Covid-19 cases were reported from the province during the last 24 hours. One more patient succumbed to Coronavirus bringing the death toll to 152. Islamabad and the federal territories collectively recorded 261 new cases during the last 24 hours. Islamabad reported 154 fresh cases, GB 14 cases, AJK 93 cases and 3 deaths during the last 24 hours, according to the officials.