The impacts of lock down due to Covid-19 are quite obviously devastating for all types of business and hence will contribute towards adversely affecting the overall economy of Pakistan and all of its provinces. Although the doctors are urging the government to implement curfew and complete lock down to control the spread of Corona Virus, things are getting difficult for the business sector as the traders and businessmen are creating pressure for the authorities, urging them to allow business to start their operational activities so that the business sector may be saved from getting crashed.
Punjab expects to face collective economic losses of $ 18-20 billion
As a matter of concern, it is expected that Punjab will have to face economic losses of $18-20 bn that is equal to 10-12 per cent of the size of its economy if the lock down prevails for three months in the province. It is also expected that five to eight million people will lose their jobs and move below the poverty line.
The Government of Punjab had imposed smart lock down for the last six weeks while permitting the businesses with necessities to operate in restricted timings. As per reports, the Covid-19 up till now has infected almost 5,400 people while the number of demises reached to 81 in Punjab. The medical experts claimed that number of patients increased noticeably due to relaxation in the lock down and demanded a complete lock down in the country to control the contagion from spreading faster. Permission to re-opening of some non-essential businesses also contributed towards increase in the number of the patients of Covid-19. As an important point, the fatal outbreak affected the urban areas more than the rural ones and violation of the SOPs of social distancing and ignoring the precautionary measures were reported to be the main factors in this regard.
Punjb’s Annual Development Program Budget (ADP) will be increased from Rs. 308 billion to Rs. 600 billion
The Government of Punjab has developed a new strategy to cope with the economic losses that will replace the five-year provincial growth strategy 2023. The strategy has been formulated by the Punjab Planning and Development Board and expects to double the provincial Annual Development Programme ADP from Rs. 308 billion to over Rs. 600 billion. The new frame work is based on seven crucial pillars that will help the Government to fight against the challenges of health, economy and social protection. Comprising of various short and long term interventions, the strategy aims to repair the losses on the provincial economy, jobs, health care system and infrastructure, poverty and delivery of public services.
The strategy includes the plan to spend the Rs. 140 billon emergency package given by the Punjab Government:
- To develop health facilities for driving away the virus pandemic
- Income support programme
- Boosting up the public works programme to protect jobs
- Tax relief for the businesses in crises.
The strategy also suggests implementation of new interventions to improve the governance capabilities of the provincial government to respond more efficiently and swiftly towards any challenges in future like the one that hit the country in the form of Corona Virus. It is also accompanied by the recommendations to develop and implement an effective communication strategy so that people must comply with precautionary measures to keep them safe and secure from the new infection.
The improvements in public financial management systems are also proposed in the strategy to make them respond in a better way to the large shocks and formulate efficient strategies regarding expenditure and tax collection so that additional spending could be made.