Provinces agree to reopen construction sector, says minister

ISLAMABAD: Economic Affairs Minister Hammad Azhar has said that all provinces have agreed to reopen the construction sector amid coronavirus lockdown.

Addressing a joint press conference after attending the National Coordination Committee (NCC) meeting, Azhar said that all provinces were consulted for the resumption of construction activities, and that the governments have unanimously decided to reopen the sector.

In addition, he said, e-commerce businesses, software development firms, veterinary hospitals, bookshops, paper packaging units, cement, fertilisers, mines and minerals plants will also be reopened.

“The trade of instrument manufacturers and some other industries will recommence their operations in accordance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs).”

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The minister, however, said the provinces did not agree with the Centre on some points; the federal government wanted daily wagers to resume their routine work.

“Electricians, plumbers and other daily wagers will be allowed to work in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab only,” he informed.

Azhar said the construction sector will be opened in phases, first of which will include the reopening of brick, cement, crushing plants, pre-fab materials, and other fundamentals.

The minister stated that construction sites in KP and Punjab will be opened immediately, while Balochistan, Sindh and GB will decide their own timeframe.

“This is an ongoing process, and it will be reviewed before Ramazan by the government to see what else can be done to provide relief to the masses.”

Earlier this month, the prime minister had elevated the status of the construction sector to that of an industry, besides announcing incentives for investors and businessmen in a bid to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

While speaking to journalists, the premier had said that a board will also be formed to address all issues and matters related to the industry.

“The reason I am paying attention to the construction sector was that it generated jobs for daily wage workers, many of whom have lost their income due to the ongoing lockdown, the PM had stated.

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