ISLAMABAD: Lockdowns and restrictions required to stem the spread of coronavirus are expected to cause a loss of 1.4 million to 18.53m jobs in the country.
According to the Economic Survey 2019-20, in case limited restrictions are imposed, as many as 1.4m jobs will be lost, which is 2.2 per cent of the employed workforce.
In monetary terms, the wage losses will translate into Rs23.6 billion. Under moderate lockdowns, employment loss could be up to 12.3m, around 20pc of the employed labour force, and wage loss will be Rs209.6bn. And if complete shutdown is clamped, it is expected that 18.53m people or 30pc of the labour force will be rendered unemployed, with job loss worth Rs315bn.
In the current situation of global economic disruption, the possibility of laying off Pakistani workers by foreign employers can’t be overruled.
Economic Survey says complete shutdown can throw 18.53m people out of work
The government claims to have devised a strategy to tackle the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on labour and employment. According to the survey, the federal cabinet has approved the Rs1.24 trillion Prime Minister Economic Relief Package to deal with the coronavirus outbreak and its repercussions in Pakistan.
The relief package is aimed at providing financial support to different sectors of the economy affected by the economic slowdown.
The government has allocated Rs200bn for the labour class that is severely hit by the pandemic. To support the industrial sector, especially the export sector, it has been decided to release tax refunds of Rs100bn, besides deferring interest payments to strengthen the liquidity position of the enterprises. For the small and medium industry and the agriculture sector, another Rs100bn is set aside with deferred interest payments. Concessional loans will be extended to farmers to bring down input costs for the farming community.
The government has also announced a Rs100bn package for the construction industry to keep the country afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic. The construction industry is considered the backbone of any economy because it provides enormous employment opportunities to skilled and unskilled workers. This sector also provides stimulus to its allied industries and the economy as a whole. Hence the government in collaboration with the provinces is making all-out efforts to generate economic activity in the country by adopting a strategy of smart lockdown with established standard operating procedures (SOPs), says the survey.
Apart from this, the provincial governments have also announced relief packages to mitigate the adverse impact of the pandemic.
The Punjab government has announced a Rs10bn relief package to financially support 2.5m families of daily wage earners.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government approved a Rs32bn stimulus economic package to provide relief to the masses and business community. It includes Rs11.4bn, benefiting 1.9m deserving families and Rs5bn exemptions from taxes for the business community.
The Sindh government has announced the Corona Emergency Ration Package for which Rs20m has been allocated for each district of the province to distribute food items to daily wage earners.
The outbreak of coronavirus has its adverse socio-economic effects all over the world. The pandemic is impacting not only the production of goods and services but also consumption and investment.
Disruptions to production, initially in Asia, have now spread to supply chains across the world. All businesses are facing serious challenges, especially those in the aviation, tourism and industries, with a real threat of significant declines in revenue and job losses in specific sectors. Following travel bans, border closures and quarantine measures, many workers cannot move to their places of work or carry out their jobs.
Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2020