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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

12 June 2020, Friday, Vol 1, No.43

Warnings on Lockdown failures, Economic & health impact of COVID, and Human trafficking in Pakistan



Warnings on Lockdown failures; Economic and health impact of COVID; budgeting amid COVID-19, and Human trafficking in Pakistan

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Brief

COVID-19
Alarming rise in COVID-19 deaths and cases

The continuous rise in the number of patients being tested positive for coronavirus and deaths caused by the virus especially in Islamabad and Rawalpindi is proving to be a matter of concern. On 11 June, the number of confirmed patients reported from the two cities crossed the figure of 9000, and 4200 have been tested positive in the last 10 days. (Muhammad Qasim, “Continuous rise in deaths, new cases set the alarm bell ringing,” The News International, 12 June 2020)

PM states that Smart lockdown is the best option
In his address to the nation, PM Imran Khan stated that the smart lockdown was the only option for Pakistan to deal with the disease. Aware of the serious situation in the country, he said that strict monitoring would be done to ensure people follow standard operating procedures (SOPs), further stating that the government would get tough on the violators. Further, he urged the people to take all precautionary measures to not overburden the country’s health system. (Ikram Junaidi, “Smart lockdown is only option: PM Imran,” Dawn, 12 June 2020)

INTERNAL
PPP led MPC opposes any changes made to 18th amendment and NFC
On 11 June, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) led a multi-party conference (MPC) opposed any action by the federal government to make changes to the 18th amendment while demanding the dissolution recently-constituted NFC commission. The MPC was convened at the CM house attended by leaders from the MQM-P, JI, JUI-F, and other members from various other parties. The resolution adopted by the conference raised its opposition on changes 18th constitutional amendment stating that bring this issue at the time of the pandemic was not appropriate and the federal government should avoid creating a controversy over the amendment. Additionally, while terming the commission on NFC as unconstitutional, it demanded the government to form another NFC commission with the recommendation of the provinces. Further, the MPC appealed to the federal government to take action to fight the locust threat in the country. (Abdullah Zafar, “Dissolve NFC commission, no change to 18th Amendment: MPC,” The Nation, 12 June 2020)

Pakistan health data worrisome: Economic Survey 2019-20
According to Economic Survey 2019-20, the national health security in Pakistan is increasingly threatened due to population growth, rising urbanisation, environmental pollution, and change in lifestyle of people and other factors. With life expectancy being the lowest in Pakistan (67.1 years), the combined healthy expenditures by federal and provincial governments in the Financial Year 2019 increased to 421.8 billion rupees from 416.5 billion rupees in 2018 showing a growth of only 1.3 per cent. Moreover, the allocation in the health sector was 1.1 per cent of the GDP. (“Pakistan health data worrisome as compared to neighbouring states,” Dawn, 12 June 2020)

IHC grants stay order against sugar scam
Islamabad High Court (IHC) granted a stay order against the recommendation of the inquiry commission on the sugar scam which called for the registration of criminal cases against sugar mill owners on the condition that they would supply the commodity to consumers at the rate of 70 rupees per kilogram until 25 June. This decision comes as a sigh of relief to the mill owners who were otherwise facing charges for the misuse of public money and cartelisation leading to massive price hike of the commodity. (Malik Asad, “IHC stops action against sugar mills,” Dawn, 12 June 2020)

Issue of Human Trafficking in Pakistan
Being a developing country, the region has fallen prey to this trade. Further, poverty, lack of resources for the public, and failure of the government to take action against such inhumane practices have been reasons for this issue to persist in the country. Women and children are among the biggest victims of human trafficking in Pakistan. Children are bought, sold, kidnapped for working in begging rings, domestic servitude and prostitution. Children of all ages are trafficked to be exploited sexually and forced to work for illegal begging and trafficking rings. Babies are sold to childless couples or couples seeking out a bride for their sons. According to Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency, the largest number of traffickers operate in Punjab, ranging from 30 to 35 traffickers. Given the magnitude of human trafficking in Pakistan, the government must implement a comprehensive survey to address the extent of trafficking. (Shahraj Raza, “Human trafficking in Pakistan,” The Nation, 12 June 2020)

ECONOMY
Budgeting amid COVID-19
With the 2020-21 budget due, the government would need to take into account several aspects to be relevant given the difficult circumstance in which it is being formulated. Government budgets will have to be responsive to the macroeconomic context, be based on realistic assumptions, and have an anchoring theme or reform idea set in the medium term, rather than merely be an accounting statement for the year ahead. Three areas that will have to be taken into account are, first, ‘exogenous’ economic disruption caused by the pandemic, second, the ‘endogenous’ economic disruption caused in response to the pandemic through lockdowns and third, the public health effect. While addressing the larger uncertainties, a rolling budget would be beneficial for the government by allowing space for flexibility. (Sakib Sherani, “Comment: Budgeting in the time of corona,” Dawn, 12 June 2020)

Lockdown to cause 1.4 million jobs losses
Accoring to the Economic Survey 2019-20, the lockdowns and restrictions imposed are likely to cause a loss of 1.4 million to 18.53 million jobs, which is 2.2 per cent of the employed workforce. Further, the survey highlighted that under moderate lockdowns, employment loss could be up to 12.3 million which is around 20 per cent of the employed labour force, and wage loss will be 209.6 billion rupees. A complete shutdown is expected to leave 18.53 million people or 30 per cent of the labour force unemployed, with job loss worth 315 billion rupees. With the staggering numbers, the federal and provincial governments have formulated strategies to tackle the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on labour and employment respectively. (Bakhtawar Mian, “Covid-19 restriction may cause loss of at least 1.4m jobs,” Dawn, 12 June 2020)

10 million to slip below the poverty line
The Economic Survey 2019-20 has estimated that at least another 10 million people are expected to slip below the poverty line as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. The survey states “The Covid-19 is expected to have a negative impact on Pakistan’s economy, and the number of people living below the poverty line may rise from the existing figure of 50 million to 60million.” The survey further stated that the government has taken many initiatives to reduce poverty, provide income security and increase the population’s access to social protection, including the creation of a dedicated Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division amid the pandemic. (Iftikhar A. Khan, “Another 10m likely to slip below poverty line,” Dawn, 12 June 2020)

ON INDIA
FM warns India that Pakistan is not a soft target
On 11 June, the Foreign Minister stated “Pakistan will give an immediate befitting response to India if it carries out any misadventure against it. Pakistan is quite capable to defend itself. We are not a soft target.” Additionally, stating that India should not remain under misconception and made it clear that the armed forces and the nation were always ready to defend the motherland. Further, he said that India’s continuous ceasefire violations on the Line of Control were part of its planned strategy aimed at diverting people’s attention from its failures. Highlighting the situation in PoK he called on the International Community to play an active role regarding this matter. (Shafqat Ali, “Pakistan ready to defend itself, FM warns India,” The Nation, 12 June 2020)
 
 

 


"I want to inform you that in Pakistan the number of deaths will increase in coming days, but in India patients are not getting beds in hospitals and now it [India] has also reached a conclusion that the lockdown is not a solution"

- Imran Khan on his smart lockdown

 

In Focus and In Brief sections are prepared by Lakshmi V Menon, Abigail Miriam Fernandez, A Padmashree and P Harini Sha.

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