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Govt announces Rs1.2tr financial package ; cut interest rate

PM Imran Khan a financial-relief package of some $6 billion and cut its benchmark interest rate for the second time in a week in an effort to counter the divesting effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on March 24 said up to 200 billion rupees ($1.26 billion) of the aid would go as payments to laborers to help families to counter the adverse effects caused by COVID-19.

The premier said the government was cutting the cost of petroleum products by Rs15 with immediate effect. The government has allocated Rs150 billion for poor families and each of them will be given Rs3000 per month, he said.The special economic package has been announced at a time when provinces have gone into a lockdown due to a drastic rise in the number of coronavirus cases.

At least seven people have died and nearly 900 others have been infected across the country.

PM Khan’s government in the centre had been reluctant to impose the lockdown, but the provincial governments did so on their own.

“If I were in Italy or France, I would not have any problems in imposing the curfew,” PM Khan said. “But our country is different. When I think about daily wagers, I think how we would provide them food.”

He said the government was trying to expand shelter homes in the country because the current ones were overcrowded. “We are checking the people and providing them food,” he added.

The premier also announced Rs100 billion tax refunds for businesses and industries. Rs100 billion have been allocated for small, medium industries and the agriculture sector. They will also be given loans.

He said that Rs50 billion have been allocated for utility stories and Rs280 billion for wheat procurement. Another Rs100 billion have been allocated for emergencies.

“For NDMA, we have allocated Rs25 billion for medical kits and procurement,” PM Khan said.

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