Bigger challenge is how to mitigate effects of lockdown on our population with rising poverty: PM Imran tells WEF

Prime Minister Imran Khan said that millions of people would have starved if the government had not lifted lockdown in the country.

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Addressing the World Economic Forum (WEF) session through video link on coronavirus situation on Wednesday, the PM said that in wake of the coronavirus situation, the government took some immediate measures to save the people from starvation and hunger. He maintained that the government imposed lockdown in the country to curb spread of the virus but at the same time, the economy of the country was also affected.

The prime minister pointed out that the government had to face two challenges. One is to stem the growth of the virus, but the bigger challenge is how to mitigate the effects of lockdown on our population and rising poverty.

Imran Khan said, “The government provided relief to 25 million families but the pandemic has affected 120 to 150 million in total.”

“These people are facing stark poverty, and unless these people work, they will starve. So what we did was and I’m proud of my government for this, was that we started a cash disbursement programme.”

He highlighted that as these are only short term solutions, we decided to ease the lockdown. “The government could not afford to give out handouts to feed people for a long period,” he stated.

He said COVID-19 cases are spreading rapidly in developed countries. “Coronavirus did not spread in Pakistan as fast and deadly as compared to European countries,” he said.

The PM said, “I spoke to the heads of Egypt, Nigeria and Ethiopia over the matter and discussed measures to deal with the pandemic.”

He said that the coming year is not just a challenge for Pakistan but for the entire world. “The world has to act and respond to the crisis collectively,” Imran remarked.

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