PM announces Rs 1tr relief package to offset slowdown.

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday announced around Rs 1 trillion relief package aimed at providing financial support to different sectors of economy affected by the economic slowdown unleashed by coronavirus pandemic in the country.

During an interaction with media persons, the prime minister said the government has decided to allocate Rs 200 billion for the labour class, which has been hit hard in the difficult times. To help the industrial sector and especially the export sector, it has been decided to release tax refunds amounting to Rs 100 billion, besides deferring of the interest payment to bolster the sector, he revealed.

For the small and medium industry, and agriculture sector, another amount of Rs 100 billion has been set aside with deferred interest payment, the prime minister said, adding that concessional loans will also be extended to the sectors. Other packages, he said, include additional amount of Rs 50 billion for the Utility Stores, Rs 280 billion for wheat procurement, and slashing of petrol and diesel prices by Rs 15 per liter for which the government will have to bear the burden of Rs 75 billion. An amount of Rs 100 billion was allocated separately for the emergency situation, he added.

The prime minister said power consumers using 300 units and gas users with Rs 2,000 monthly bills will be facilitated to deposit their bills through three monthly instalments. A sum of Rs 50 billion has also been allocated for the medical staff. The National Disaster Management Authority will get Rs 25 billion for purchase and procuring of kits, he announced.

Imran Khan said for the vulnerable families who are bearing the brunt of the difficult time, it has been decided to allocate an amount of Rs 150 billion for a period of four months. He said the government is expanding the network of Panagah (shelter homes) where the precautionary measures have been strictly ensured. Besides, he said, it has been decided to either completely cut taxes or reduce them on different edible items. For the construction industry, the government will announce a separate package within days, which, he promised, has never been witnessed in the country's history.

Reiterating that the country cannot afford a complete lockdown with the imposition of curfew, the prime minister said the situation in the country so far does not warrant resorting to that last step. However, he added, the government will review the situation after a couple of weeks. The...

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