March 22, 2020 (MLN): As the novel COVID-19 has forced an unprecedented shut down of entire nation and no one knows the ultimate impact from such a sudden stoppage of the economy, however, the authorities are taking every possible measure to contain it.
The departed week witnessed a series of government’s steps and measures during the epidemic’s immediate impact and the aftermath.
On Sunday, Sindh Chief Minister announced a complete lockdown for at least 2 weeks.
On Friday, the government cleared the funds that are reallocated from unutilized World Bank projects which can be used by provinces and federal government for Covid-19 equipment purchases and responses.
Meanwhile, SBP also announced several measures to support exporters affected by the loss of demand in these circumstances and to prevent current liquidity problems from turning into solvency problems amongst exporters.
In addition to this, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Friday announced to exempt the import of medical equipment and machinery necessary to diagnose and treat the pandemic novel coronavirus (Covid-19) from the whole of sales tax, income tax, customs duties and regulatory duties for a period of three months.
Moreover, Chairman Businessmen Group (BMG) & Former President Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) Siraj Kassam Teli urged the federal government to strictly order K-Electric to immediately stop and defer Industrial Support Package Adjustment (ISPA), which is being charged retrospectively in a very odd situation as all the industries remain completely shut due to the outbreak of coronavirus and it was impossible to pay such exorbitant electricity bills carrying ISPA.
Furthermore, the government on Saturday decided to suspend all international flight operations for two weeks amid fear of Coronavirus spread in the country.
The same day, US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Alice Wells said that United States will provide one million dollars to Pakistan under USAID program to bolster monitoring and rapid response against Coronavirus.
On Thursday, Hammad Azhar said on Twitter that the Economic Affairs Division is finalizing an approx. $600 million emergency package with Multilaterals for dealing with Covid-19 outbreak across the country.
On Tuesday, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in its meeting, decided to reduce the Policy Rate by 75 Basis Points to 12.5 percent to address the economic health and challenges posed by COVID-19.
Besides, SBP also announced further two measures amid COVID-19 outbreak, which include “Temporary Economic Refinance Facility (TERF)” and its Shariah-compliant version to stimulate new investment in manufacturing and a “Refinance Facility for Combating COVID–19 (RFCC)” and its Shariah-compliant version to support hospitals and medical centres in combating the spread of COVID–19.
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