Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

13 April 2020, Monday

The federal-provincial blame game continues on COVID fight as well

World Bank says Covid-19 may push Pakistan into recession; PM Imran Khan seeks debt relief from global community

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

By Lakshmi V Menon

The federal-provincial blame game continues on COVID fight as well
Coordination and congruent efforts for battling the Covid-19 is being jeopardized by first, the political storm created by the exposition of wheat and sugar trades and second, the PPP-PTI or Sindh-Centre political contest manifesting in the anti-virus struggle. The federal government saying that Sindh government’s newly prepared draft ordinance – Sindh Covid-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance, 2020 – trespasses the Centre’s jurisdictions and constitutional powers under Article 128 of the Constitution, reminded the province of Centre’s ‘Ehsaas Program’ and asked Sindh to use its own resources if it wished to do more for the people and not resort to unconstitutional means. Meanwhile, political economy is at center stage as despite saving estimations of $4-5bn in petroleum exports, Pakistan has sought $3bn in loans. (Dawn, 13 April 2020)
Maleeha Lodhi identifies five major problems with Pakistan's COVID fight
Maleeha Lodhi argues Prime Minister Imran Khan must take the following steps to fight the pandemic – first, communicate consistent, clear and coherent messages to the public; second, act decisively; third, use multilayered, congruent, unified, national efforts; fourth, implement strong social distancing measures; and fifth, lead the efforts with medical specialists and not generalist bureaucrats. In this respect she identifies key issues in Pakistan’s anti-virus battle hitherto – first, inconsistent mixed signals regarding the severity of the crisis; second, indecisive actions regarding lockdown and suspension of air travel; third, lack of Centre-province coordination; fourth, decisions to relax restrictions for economic activity without meeting health care milestones like enhancing testing capability; and fifth, not entrusting determination of relaxation of restrictions to health professionals. (Dawn, 13 April 2020) 
Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman arrest: Senior lawyers condemn detention
Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s continued detention by NAB, in a 34-year old property case, was strongly condemned by constitutional expert Abid Hassan Minto and PBC Vice-Chairman Abid Saqi. The barristers urged the immediate release of the Jang/Geo Chief. Abid Saqi urged the Prime Minister to improve his image by intervening and ordering release of political opponents including Mir Shakil. (The News International, 13 April 2020) 
World Bank says Covid-19 may push Pakistan into recession
The “South Asia Economic Focus”, a flagship report by World Bank says Pakistan with a 2.2 per cent shrinkage in economy and steep decline in per capita income, may experience a recession due to the severe economic impact of the deadly and highly proliferous pandemic. On 12 April, WB projected a 1.3 per cent to 2.2 per cent decline in Pakistan’s national output for FY20. Owing to collapsing trade, increasing strain in banking and financial sectors and halting of economic activities, the report projects a steep economic slump in all eight regional states. (The Express Tribune, 13 April 2020) 
PM Imran Khan seeks debt relief from global community
Through a video message aired by TV channels on 12 April, PM Imran Khan appealed to heads of financial institutions, leaders of affluent countries and the UN secretary general to provide debt relief to debt-ridden developing nations like Pakistan to combat Covid-19 better. He said Pakistan did not have funds to allocate for the already overstretched health services and said the maximum they “could afford was $8bn”. Additionally, he urged states to write off debts of poor countries and lift the crumbling sanctions off Iran. (Dawn, 13 April 2020)

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