20.76m lost livelihood due to lockdowns: survey

Published January 8, 2021
In this file photo, people stand in circles drawn with chalk to maintain safe distance outside a bank in Lahore on March 30, 2020. — Reuters/File
In this file photo, people stand in circles drawn with chalk to maintain safe distance outside a bank in Lahore on March 30, 2020. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s 20.76 million workforce suffered livelihood losses due to coronavirus-related lockdowns and a large majority of them got back to work after July 2020, an official survey reveals.

The Planning Commission on Thursday said the country’s 35 per cent (about 55.74m) population of 10 years and older was working before the onset of Covid-19, but due to closure of activities after implementation of lockdowns, this declined to 22pc (about 35.04m people). “This means almost 20.76m population was affected,” the commission said, citing the survey conducted by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

A review meeting presided over by Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar expres­sed satisfaction that “after July the recovery process started and 33pc of population reported working after April-July 2020”. This means approximately 52.56m people started working again — almost a V-shaped recovery.

The meeting was told that livelihood of 17.07m households was affected due to lockdown restrictions. The survey evidence suggested that had the strict lockdown continued, devastating impacts might have been observed on the livelihoods of vulnerable groups of workers and their families.

A large majority of workforce got back to work after July 2020

The meeting was briefed on the results of the survey conducted to evaluate the impact of Covid-19 on the well-being of people. Information related to employment, income, remittances, food insecurity, health, coping strategies adopted by the household and assets to compile wealth quintiles had been collected in the survey.

The meeting also reviewed the PBS’s initiative to develop a decision support system for inflation (DSSI) as part of the government’s “Digital Pakistan” programme. The system will enable the policymakers — National Price Monitoring Committee, provincial governments and district administration — to take evidence-based policy decision and address causes of inflation in the country. The DSSI is featured with providing market-level information, city-wise comparison of prices, time series data at the commodity level, etc. The system provides comparison of rates issued by the deputy commissioner and those collected by the PBS on a weekly basis, the meeting was informed.

It was noted that the district administration could play a vital role in controlling the price hike by effectively monitoring markets, but there was “no mechanism to compare the prices issued by the district administration and PBS”.

As a first step, the DSSI will provide a data-driven mechanism for higher management at the provincial and federal levels to monitor the performance of the district administration on a weekly as well as monthly basis in 17 major cities of the country. The system will be launched after an approval by the prime minister and will be executed through the National Price Monitoring Committee.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2021

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