COVID-19 outbreak: Govt likely to announce Rs1.1tr relief package

–Govt may also reduce key interest rate, relax tax-related laws and divert BISP funds to virus-hit businesses

ISLAMABAD: The federal government, as part of its rescue-cum-economic stimulus package, would soon announce an income support programme as well as relief in energy prices for both domestic consumers and big businesses.

“The multi-pronged package will be applicable across the country without discrimination to help industries and businesses stand on their feet and support families of those people whose income and livelihood may have been affected by the spread of coronavirus,” said a government official.

He stated that the proposals for the package were in their final stages and would soon be announced by the prime minister.

The proposals include a further cut in key interest rate by the State Bank of Pakistan and instructions to tax authorities to adopt a friendly approach with businesses. The diversion of BISP funds to support those families whose livelihood was at risk due to closure of small businesses, restaurants, retail businesses etc. was also on the cards.

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The official further informed about a Power Division’s proposal for the recovery of electricity and gas bills from small businesses in installments.

“We are trying to provide relief in electricity prices to the industry and large businesses as a stimulant to economy,” said the official, adding that the true picture and cost of the effort was estimated to be huge, given the fact that it was not clear as to how long the coronavirus impact would continue in the shape of slowdown or shutdowns.

According to sources, the government will likely announce a Rs1.16 trillion relief package, wherein Rs280 billion would be allocated wheat farmers, Rs200 billion, for daily wage workers, Rs200 billion for exporters, Rs120 billion for vulnerable families, Rs100 billion for SMEs, Rs75 billion for foot items package, Rs50 billion for medical workers and government staff, Rs50 billion for relief on petroleum products, Rs50 billion for Utility Stores Corporation (USC), Rs30 billion for support of capital markets and Rs13 billion for NDMA.

On Sunday, Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar had held consultative sessions to finalise contours of the special relief package being prepared for the people in the wake of coronavirus epidemic. Different options and proposals as part of the proposed package were discussed during the meeting.

A Power Division official said that Energy Minister Omar Ayub and Power Secretary Irfan Ali had shared with the finance ministry their proposed package for inclusion in the premier’s rescue and economic stimulus package. This involved a proposal to freeze quarterly tariff adjustments and monthly fuel price adjustments for up to a year for domestic consumers.

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  1. it was very much appropriate and best to only give few hundred percent reduction in fuel prices ONLY . that would cover all the people PLUS there was no chance of corruption as well !

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