By Muhammad Luqman
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged the international community to formulate a combined strategy to protect the most vulnerable segments of the society, especially labour class from the impacts of Covid-19.
Speaking at the virtual Global Summit on ‘COVID-19 and the World of Work’, organized by International Labour Organization, Imran Khan said lockdown in countries had left a big population jobless, most of them labourers, daily wagers and self-employed.
“The future is very uncertain, as we do not know how long the economy will take to recover from the impacts of the pandemic,” he stated, adding that till vaccines are found the world community will need to share their experiences and exchange ideas to protect the vulnerable groups.
Sharing the initial lockdown experience of Pakistan, Imran Khan said it had left daily-wage earners and labourers unemployed.
“Hence, we came up with the smart lockdown idea under which public gatherings were stopped, but we allowed other activities like reopening of construction and agriculture sectors,” he added.
Prime Minister @ImranKhanPTI addressed the Global Leaders' Day event at @ILO Global Summit earlier today and thanked them for organizing this summit at this critical time when labour community across the world are facing hardships due to #Covid19 lockdown. pic.twitter.com/RaD7HtUCQd
— Prime Minister's Office, Pakistan (@PakPMO) July 8, 2020
Imran Khan while referring to the cash transfer Ehsaas Programme , said that the government is providing cash assistance to labourers after completing their registration process.
“It is the first time in Pakistan’s history that such huge money was disbursed in such a short space of time,” he said stressing that this saved the country from the worst effects of the lockdown.
“Never in the country’s history was so much money transferred to so many people in a short time,” he remarked. “This saved us from some of the worst aspects of the crisis. Unlike in India, where they imposed a curfew which pushed people into deeper poverty.”
The prime minister continued, “No one is sure when the coronavirus will end. We are all praying a vaccine comes out for the virus soon, but, meanwhile, uncertainty prevails.”
“The small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the most affected by the virus and these employ the most number of labourers, which is why we need to come up with the idea to solve their issues,” he said.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan and several other countries greatly relied on the remittances received from its expatriates and stressed a strategy to convince the host countries for a “sympathetic approach” before laying off the workers.
He lauded the initiative of ILO Global Summit Conference for “being held at a critical juncture and offering a platform for countries to learn from each others’ experiences of dealing with the pandemic.”
He termed the conference a beginning towards finding of solutions and expressed hope that constant exchange of ideas would help mitigate the sufferings of the labourers world over.