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PM unveils relief package in televised address

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Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday announced “country’s biggest ever” subsidy package worth Rs 120 billion providing 30% discount on ghee, flour and pulses to support 130 million people by ebbing away the impact of inflation.

The prime minister, in his televised address to the nation, said 20 million families would benefit from the subsidy package to be funded jointly by the federal and provincial governments.

Under the package, the beneficiaries would avail a 30% discount on the said three food commodities for next six months.

He said the subsidy package was apart from the ongoing different programs under Ehsaas Initiative worth Rs 260 billion affecting 120 million families.

The prime minister particularly thanked the Ehsaas team for compiling the national database of households to enable the government provide direct subsidy to the entitled families. “Today, we have a data and now I am in the position to announce… country’s biggest ever welfare program,” he remarked.

The prime minister also announced Rs 1400 billion for Kamyab Pakistan Program aimed at providing interest free business loans to the entitled four million families.

The package consists of interest free loans for house construction, Rs 0.5 million each loan for farmers and businesses besides skill training to a member of the entitled family.

He said under Kamyab Jawan Program had so far given Rs 30 billion loan to 22,000 businesses. The program also featured a program to provide six million scholarship and stipends to the students.

Calling it his dream project, the prime minister the Health Insurance Card has been extended to whole of KP province and would be replicated in Punjab, AJK, GB and federal capital by March next year.

The prime minister also asked the Sindh government to launch the program to provide Rs 1 million health insurance cover to every family.

Imran Khan said the government had inherited a Pakistan with the biggest ever fiscal deficit, foreign debt burden, heaviest mark up, reserves touching the lowest mark, and the kitty with no money to pay back debts.

He thanked Saudi Arabia, UAE and China which supported the country in difficult time to save the country from default.

He said it took almost a year to stabilize the economy which unfortunately followed the outbreak of COVID pandemic – the biggest ever crisis the world faced during last century.

The prime minister felt proud for his team in the NCOC comprising top doctors, cabinet members and Pakistan Army which took bold decisions based on the data and made the country steered through the crisis effectively.

“One one side it was the fear of overcrowding of hospitals like India while the other fear was that the lockdown would destroy the economy. Pakistan opted for the middle course which also involved risks,” he said.

The prime minister recalled that he was pressured to impose India-like blanket lockdown but he said Pakistan was among few countries which successfully sailed through the situation which was also acknowledged by the World Bank, World Health Organization, World Economic Forum as well as the international media including The Economist magazine.

Giving an overview of the COVID impact on world economy, the prime minister the United States spent $4,000 billion to support its economy while Pakistan could only scrape $8 billion to avert the burden of unemployment and support the industry, construction and agriculture.

The prime minister said owing to the government’s prudent policies, the country witnessed a 13.8% growth in rice production, pulses 8%, sugarcane 22%, wheat 8% and cotton 81% growth.

Moreover, an additional Rs1100 billion went to the farmers  which was manifested by the record sale of motorbikes, tractors and urea.

He said following the incentives announced by the government, the construction projects worth Rs 600 billion were going on in the country and large scale manufacturing achieved record growth. Moreover, the profit of engineering sector increased by 350%, textile sector 160%, automobiles 138%, cement 113% and oil and gas 75%..

Besides, the country’s tax collection also grew by 37% as the government had already surpassed the set target.

“Our (economic) indicators are on right course. IT achieved 47% growth last year and this year it will touch 75%. This is good news for youth,” he remarked.

The prime minister said no doubt the inflation was an issue but instead of merely criticizing like opposition, the media should also teach the people about the worldwide inflation.

Quoting the Bloomberg Commodity Price Index, the prime minister said commodities’ prices grew by 50% in a year against just 9% in Pakistan.

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