The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has lead to at least 1.3 million infections around the world killing over 60,000 people. In Pakistan, more than 4000 people have been infected while sixty people have lost their lives. The situation is expected to worsen in the coming days.
Apart from the devastation on health and human lives, the coronavirus has had a severe economic impact as the world has entered a global recession. This will lead to the loss of livelihoods, incomes, and jobs for thousands of people due to the decline in trading and sbusiness activities.
Conditions in Pakistan
The coronavirus pandemic has adversely impacted Pakistan’s economy. The stock market has declined a staggering 34 percent since January as all gains over the last couple of years have been erased. All socio-economic indicators, which has shown improvement, have also nosedived.
Renowned ratings agency Moodys has reduced Pakistan’s credit ratings, while the World Bank has also warned of a decline in economic growth. As travel remains suspended, the PIA has been among the airlines across the world that risk bankruptcy and huge financial losses.
The wheels of economic and business activities has come to a halt. Due to the lockdown, trade remains suspended and the industry can complete export orders. Local factories, mills and businesses have either been shut or seen a massive decline in productivity.
The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) also offered credit leasing facilities to business and industries affected by the lockdown. Despite these relaxations, many companies have struggled to make interest payments to commercial banks and salaries for employees.
The losses faced by the textile industry, the country’s biggest exporter, cannot be completely realized. Food chains, local transport, educational institutes, shopping malls, amusement parks, and others are some of the worst affected due to the ongoing lockdown.
Loss of employment
The global pandemic has led to the loss of employment in USA, UK, Canada and Middle East as thousands of people have been made redundant due to falling demand or risk massive pay cuts.
In the United States, over 600,000 people filed for unemployment in March, which is the highest figure since the 2008 financial crisis. Similar trend can be seen in countries around the world as the world enters a global recession.
In Pakistan, thousands of people particularly the labour class or blue-collared workers have borne the brunt of the two-week lockdown. Many of these daily wagers are associated with the transport and construction industry which has been completely shuttered and are struggling to find work.
The industrial hub of Karachi could be the worst affected as workers could be relieved off their duties or made redundant in the next couple of months. There are 18.5 million unemployed people in the country and this figure could rise sharply due to the pandemic.
Govt relief package
The government has announced a massive financial stimulus to provide much-needed relief to the labour class from being affected due to the lockdown. Prime Minister Imran Khan was also reluctant to impose a complete nationwide lockdown as it would affect the lowers segments of society the worst.
The daily wagers cannot blame the government for the ongoing crisis as it is a global health emergency and is beyond their control. The government is taking the necessary measures to the best of its ability and resources.
It is necessary that jobs and livelihoods of the people affected by the lockdown are safeguarded. The loss of employment could lead to starvation, lost income and declining health. There could be internal strife and conflict if the situation worsens and goes beyond control.
The government should make efforts to ensure that the situation does not reach the level where its existence is in jeopardy and the security of the state is at stake.
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