By Muhammad Luqman
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced concessions and tax refunds for exporters and businessmen to help mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the South Asian nation.
The Central Bank has already cut down interest rate by 150 basis points.
Most parts of Pakistan are presently under lockdown to help stop the spread of the coronavirus-induced diseases that has been declared pandemic by the World Health Organization.
Pakistan on Tuesday reported its seventh death from the novel coronavirus in the country and 16 new cases taking the nationwide toll of positive cases to 961.
Briefing the journalists regarding the measures taken by the government in the capital Islamabad, Imran Khan talked about the measures taken by his government to deal with the coronavirus crisis in the country.
The PM said the government has approved the stimulus package to help the poor and business community. “We have allocated Rs200 billion for labourers and we will immediately release Rs100 billion tax refunds to exporters and industry,” he said.
“For the small and medium industry and agriculture sector, another amount of Rs100 billion was set aside with deferred interest payment,” Imran Khan said, adding concessional loans would also be extended to these sectors.
Other packages included an additional amount of Rs50bn for the Utility Stores, Rs280bn for the wheat procurement, slashing of petrol and diesel prices by Rs15 per litre for which the government would have to bear the burden of Rs75bn. An amount of Rs100bn was allocated separately for the emergency situation, he added.
The prime minister said power consumers using 300 units and gas users with Rs2,000 monthly bills would be facilitated to deposit their bills through three monthly installments. A sum of Rs50bn was also allocated for the medical staff. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) would get Rs 25bn for purchase and procuring of kits, he announced.
PM @ImranKhanPTI unveiled a comprehensive relief package amid Coronavirus Ourbreak. The package covers poor labours, families, medical staff, export industry & SMEs. It also offers relief on oil prices, gas & electricity bills, reduced taxes on food. Watch the video to learn more pic.twitter.com/cPCNLxBH6t
— Prime Minister's Office, Pakistan (@PakPMO) March 24, 2020
Imran Khan said for the vulnerable families who were bearing the brunt of the difficult time, it was decided to allocate an amount of Rs150bn for a period of four months. He said they were also expanding the network of Panagah (shelter houses) where the precautionary measures had been strictly practiced. Besides, he said, it was decided to either completely cut taxes or reduce them on different edible items.
Neighbouring India that is presently under a three-week lockdown to overcome coronavirus, has also announced relaxation in a number of tax compliance rules for individuals and firms and also raised the thre threshold of triggering insolvency cases to 10mn rupees from 100,000 rupees currently, according to media reports.
India’s government will soon announce a fiscal package to help the economy face the impact of the coronavirus, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a video conference with reporters in the capital, New Delhi on Tuesday.
India has reported 482 cases of the coronavirus but health experts have warned that a big jump could be imminent.
Meanwhile, India’s India’s 1.3 billion people has come under a largest virus lockdown after its Prime Minister, Narendra Modi maked announcement in a TV address.
India’s 1.3 billion people will go under “total lockdown” for 21 days to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, warning that anyone going outside risked inviting the virus inside their homes, and pledging $2bn to bolster the country’s beleaguered healthcare system.