Tax deferrals, interest rate cut proposed as govt mulls emergency bailout

ISLAMABAD: The Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is mulling an “economic emergency bailout package” to help people and businesses survive the severe economic downturn caused by the new coronavirus pandemic, a local newspaper reported.

According to various estimates, the national economy is expected to suffer $ 10 billion loss if the deadly virus spreads quickly. The Ministry of Commerce has reportedly projected $2 to 4 billion loss to exports. Similarly, remittances can be badly affected as coronavirus has affected work of overseas Pakistanis. The Federal Board of Revenue has anticipated Rs300 billion losses since all major ports, businesses etc have been closed. 

READ MORE: How might the Coronavirus outbreak affect Pakistan’s economy?

A series of meetings have been held with all stakeholders in this regard and various proposals came under discussion. It has been learnt that policymakers proposed to further decrease interest rate and facilitate the business community in tax matters. The policymakers also considered enhancing the scope of Ehsaas Programme to support the poorest section of the society whose livelihoods would be badly affected in lockdown scenario. The final decision about the bailout package will be taken by the National Security Committee (NSC) next week .

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Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has reaffirmed government’s commitment to utilise all available resources to protect citizens from coronavirus pandemic. 

Talking to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser in Islamabad, he said the government is in close contact with various economic international organizations to protect national economy from adverse impacts of Covid-19.

Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan has also said that the government is working on a Financial Stimulus Package to help the labour class and daily wagers.

Addressing a joint news conference with SAPM Dr Zafar Mirza and DG ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar in Islamabad the other day, she said that the package will soon be presented to the prime minister for formal approval. She said a committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of the Finance Advisor Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to devise a plan to avoid economic slowdown in the country.

Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said directions have been given to provincial governments to take strict actions against those elements, who attempt to hoard food and create artificial shortage of edible items.

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