ISLAMABAD: The federal and provincial governments on Saturday agreed to allow 10 major industries to continue operations to maintain supply of essential items in the domestic market amid the lockdown.
The government’s economic team led by Adviser to PM on Commerce and Industries Abdul Razak Dawood held a virtual meeting with stakeholders to agree on a minimum agenda.
Industries ministers from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa participated in the meeting via video link besides federal ministers. However, ministers from Sindh and Balochistan were not part of the meeting.
“We have to run the economy. We need guidelines to be followed across the country”, Dawood told Dawn after the meeting.
He said that it was agreed during the meeting to allow food, packaging, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, rice, call centres, exporters, essential chemicals, LNG facilities and refineries sectors to operate uninterrupted.
Ten industries may be listed for exemptions from lockdowns
Dawood said that it was agreed to provide support to the food and packaging sector to ensure uninterrupted supply of food items across the country and ensure price stability.
Similarly, he said that sufficient support will be provided to pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturers to ensure availability of medicines and personal protection equipment like face masks, sanitisers and other protection gear in the markets.
Dawood said that one of the government’s priority is to extend maximum support to the business process outsourcing (BPOs) companies and call centres, which are now growing at a very rapid pace in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
He said that after a long time, international BPOs have diverted their focus towards Pakistan. “We want to grab the opportunity for youth”, he said while announcing the decision to allow employees in the sector to work freely to earn their wages.
At the moment, he said the BPOs and call centres are the government’s top priority. “We have to let workers work,” the adviser said. He added that the sector can absorb idle educated youth available in the market.
On rice exports, he said that it was agreed in the meeting that trucks carrying export orders will be allowed to reach ports uninterrupted.
The meeting, he said, also reviewed measures to allow five export-oriented industries to resume operations in order to fulfill international demands. “I have given them full encouragement and support from the centre.”
The adviser said that he was happy to announce that provision of electricity at 7.5 cents per kWh, all inclusive, plus applicable taxes for the five export-oriented sectors has been ratified by the cabinet up to June 30.
Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2020