In various speeches over the past month, especially the second half, Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly repeated the impact that national locking will have on the economy. On April 3, he compared the situation in the US and Pakistan, saying that where Washington had announced a $ 2,000 billion aid package to combat COVID-19, Islamabad could only make $ 8 billion available – underscoring the fiscal gap.
The decision to impose lockdown around the world has been made keeping in mind the impact that will occur on daily betting – which, in the case of Pakistan, forms a significant proportion of the workforce. In this regard, concerns have been raised by rights groups for branching out for workers in Pakistan and what the government needs to do to minimize the economic impact on them.
While daily betting is expected to have the harshest impact, those employed are also afraid of what might be in store. According to a report entitled, ‘Sectoral Analysis of COVID-19 Employed the Vulnerable and Pakistan’s Labor Market’, up to 18.5 million people will be terminated because of national lockdown. This study has been written by economists from the Pakistan Development Economics Institute (PIDE), Dr. Nasir, Naseem Faraz, and Mahmood Khalid.
“This locking will have economic impacts that can arise through several channels, including, but not limited to, a sharp decline in domestic demand, a decline in tourism and business travel, production linkages, supply disruptions, and health impacts,” the study notes.
Meanwhile, labor agencies continue to express concerns related to what might happen in the lower echelons of the workforce. The National Labor Council (NLC) has asked the government to create a task force to determine the economic losses faced by industry so that workers’ rights can be guaranteed.
“Daily wage workers will suffer greatly because the industry is closed. Many factories in various industrial areas have been closed due to coronavirus. Coordination between the federal and provincial governments is needed to deal with this disaster, “said Habibuddin Junaidi from the Labor Solidarity Committee.
The workforce has also been affected by many exporting countries demanding that local producers stop production because it is locked in Europe. This has caused delays in export shipments because stores and malls around the world have been closed as well.
The Sindh government has been especially praised by analysts for its actions in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Provincial leadership is also valued for its efforts to protect the workforce.
On Monday, Singh announced paid leave for all workers during the closure in the province. Orders have also been given to prevent workers from being laid off, or wages cut during disputes. Notifications have been issued under labor law and Part 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act (2014).
“The issuance of the notice by the Sindh government is a welcome decision and this decision must be implemented strictly in all provinces,” said Karamat Ali, executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research (PILER) on behalf of the NLC.
In what is called by many rights groups a ‘lesson from history’, women around the world are urged to be included in the workforce. For Pakistan, this has significant financial benefits, given the smaller share of women in the workforce.
According to the McKinsey Global Institute report entitled Power Power Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in the Asia Pacific ‘the country can add more than $ 30 billion to GDP by working on gender equality.
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