As we are gradually nearing the end of the Holy month of Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr is fast approaching and people are seen hectically engaged in doing shopping in the midst of Coronavirus pandemic that has engulfed the whole country. The government has announced easing of the lockdown restrictions but the truth is that the pandemic poses a serious threat to our lives as well as our economy. The implementation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) is nowhere seen at the market places. Traders, shop owners and buyers are seen flagrantly violating the SOPs and the people seem to have forgotten everything and there is no concept of social or physical distancing whatsoever. Despite the fact that a sharp spike in Corona patients has been noticed all across the country and deaths caused by the virus too are on the rise. With 40 new COVID-19 deaths the Pakistan’s death toll from the Coronavirus has risen to 874. With the increase in new cases, the number of patients has exceeded 40,000. On the hand government has also announced the opening of public transport from today to give a relief to the workers, tourists and students who have been stranded in different cities and towns due to the lockdown. As we have a tradition that every religious festival is celebrated with their loved ones. And it is understood that the government wants to satisfy the people by relaxing to some extent.
On the other hand, the lockdown has jammed the wheel of the country’s economy and business has been severely paralyzed. The nationwide lockdown has halted all the business activities in the country rendering thousands of people jobless. And the situation has worsened so much and so that the people with meager sources of income have reached the point of starvation. If this situation continues any further there is fear of people dying of hunger. It is time that the government of the day should pay special attention and address emerging issues and challenges before they snow ball into full blow crisis.
The government should take announce special incentive package for small businesses, particularly, the provision of interest-free loans should be ensured so that they could be able to revive the business.
The State Bank of Pakistan has further reduced the interest rate by one percent. According to the SBP, due to the continued lockdown there will be no improvement whatsoever in the economic slowdown, which will lead to further increase in deficit. And food prices are likely to rise further. Unfortunately, except empty claims the government has still not been able to formulate a comprehensive policy to tackle these challenges. Instead of relying on hollow slogans the federal government should take the lead and in sustaining the country’s economy until it is too late. It is better late than never.