By Dr Saeed Ahmed Ali
LAHORE, Apr 12 (APP):The novel coronavirus pandemic has changed the course of major global economies by inflicting a loss of around 2.4 to 2.5 percent to the value of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during the current fiscal year, 2020.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak as an International concern of public health emergency and since then global Stock Exchange Markets have witnessed a dramatic fall.
Like other Asian countries, as international response, a noticeable fall in GDP has also been witnessed in all sectors of Pakistan including construction-industry amid the prevailing coronavirus crisis.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a bid to overcome the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, has announced unprecedented incentives for the construction sector, giving it Industry-status by establishing an authority namely Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB). The project would be starting from April 14, 2020.
“No investor in the construction sector would be asked about his source of income, withholding tax on all construction related material except on iron and cement has been waived-off and per square foot or per yard tax payment method would be adopted,” the prime minister has recently announced.
Talking to APP, leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Nazar Muhammad Gondal said that the premier’s package and incentives’ plan would help strengthen the economic conditions caused due to the COVID-19 outbreak. He lauded the historic initiative and Rs 30 billion subsidy by the Prime minister for Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme, adding this would further strengthen the construction industry sector to develop the economy.
Beyond development, the sector will help generate employment opportunities for engineers, young graduates and daily wagers as the construction industry is the second largest development sector of the country, he said, adding the PTI government was making efforts to improve the lives and social standard of the poor strata of the society.
The premier while keeping in view the difficulties of the daily wagers, who are living below the poverty line has refused to completely shut down the country amid the coronavirus outbreak, he highlighted.
The statistics of the World Fact Book reveals that with a 57.2 million labor-force, Pakistan is the 9th largest country in the world contributing the best available human workforce. The detail of this break-up figure indicates that that 43 percent of this workforce is involved in agriculture, 20.3 percent in Industry while 36.6 percent works in other sectors.
A global report-2019, published jointly by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP) of the United Nations (UN) has revealed that around 24 percent (One-fourth) of Pakistan’s total population was living below the poverty line. While according to Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), 39 percent population of the country has to face poverty-based issues.
Noted Construction engineer Muhammad Umer Chaudhry said that the PM’s construction industry package would help generate maximum job opportunities by contributing toward economic growth and its revival. The construction sector was the real backbone and spirit of the development of any country and has multiple effects on the economy, he said.
To a query, he said, the real glimpse of the development of any country was demonstrated through its robust potential of constructional sector, which was closely associated with industrial production and flourishing of business, commerce and trade activities.
In construction-industry, the site-owners, contractors and labourers are facing potentially significant challenges including, supply chain, workforce wages, and halt of the scheduled infrastructure projects, he informed.
It is pertinent to mention here that in order to help the destitute strata of the country which was badly affected by the lockdown, the PM has initiated another relief package ‘Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme Project’, which has become operational. Under this project, a sum of Rs. 12000 would be paid to each of the 12 million needy families of the country at 17,000 points.