Federal government opts for smart lockdown to save daily wagers from coronavirus economic crisis

Federal government opts for smart lockdown to save daily wagers from coronavirus economic crisis

ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz Friday said the welfare of workers and labourers had always remained the topmost priority of the government.

Even before the coronavirus outbreak, their welfare was the main focus of the government’s planning under the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, he said while addressing his maiden news conference after assuming charge of the office.

The information minister said considering the difficulties of the labourers and the daily wagers due to the lockdown imposed in the aftermath of the outbreak of coronavirus, the government announced a fiscal stimulus package and allocated an amount of Rs 200 billion for the poor segments of the society.

Under the Ehsaas Cash Emergency Programme, Rs 12,000 was being distributed among every deserving family, including the labourers, he added.

Shibli Faraz said after coming to power, the prime minister took practical steps for the betterment of workers and the homeless by opening shelter homes and Langar Khanas. Moreover they were provided health cover by issuance of Insaf Health Cards.

He said the Federal Government adopted the concept of smart lockdown under the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to protect the daily wagers and labourers from the impacts of coronavirus.

The country, he said, could not afford a complete lockdown due to the economic situation and even the developed states were also opting for the smart lockdown to keep their economic wheels running.

Now there was a realization on the importance of striking a balance between the lockdown and revival of economic activities to save the vulnerable segments of the society from hunger and starvation, he added.

The strategy was being finalized for reopening of the industrial sector, he said, appealing to the people related to the industries to take precautionary measures. The prime minister wanted that the lockdown should be eased to some extent so that the country’s economy could grow, he added.

To a question, the minister said consultations with the opposition for finalizing standard operating procedures to summon the session of Parliament were at advanced stage.

He said the government wanted holding the sessions of both the National Assembly and the Senate, but it was vital to adopt precautionary measures in the given situation when NA Speaker Asad Qaiser had been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

He said it was important to call the sessions of two houses of the parliament as approval of certain bills, which were going to lapse, was necessary.

The opposition was a part and parcel of the political system and the government welcomed its constructive criticism which proved helpful in improving the standard of governance and transparency. The opposition should play its role within the realm of democratic norms and values, he remarked.

As regard the situation in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the information minister said the government had effectively highlighted the lingering dispute, and the plight of besieged Kashmiris since India unilaterally revoked the autonomous status of the state in August last year, at the world forums, including the United Nations.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had raised his voice regarding Kashmir on all relevant forums and his speech in the General Assembly on the issue had become part of the history.

Replying to a question, Shibli Faraz said it was the prime minister’s prerogative to change his team members keeping in view the situation and interest of the country. He expressed the commitment to transform the Information Ministry as per the modern requirements, and enhance its outreach to project the national interests and the country’s image.

To a question, he said the policy was being formulated for the betterment of media workers and payment of outstanding dues to the media houses were being done on war footing. However under the policy, the payment of outstanding salaries to the media workers by media houses management would be ensured.