By Hamid Khan Wazir
PESHAWAR, Pakistan: The lockdown could have an alarming impact on employment in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) if it persists for a year.
The provincial government revealed that around 4.2 million people would lose their jobs if the existing lockdown remained in place for a year.
According to a report of KP Planning and Development Department, which shed light on the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on the economy of the province, predicted that overall some 1.3 million jobs could be lost if the Lockdown prolonged for another 45-day.
The highest losses would be seen in the transportation and storage sectors with a predicted loss of some 359,393 jobs. It said that construction, manufacturing and wholesale sectors would also be highly affected with job losses of some 295,594, 258,664 and 216,252 respectively.
The number of jobs lost could increase even more if the lockdown was extended, the report warned, estimating some 2.7million jobs would be lost if the lockdown was extended to a six-month period.
It warned that at least 460,000 people working as daily wagers and street vendors were set to lose their employment with “immediate effect”.
While estimating layoffs caused due to the lockdown in place to stop the spread of pandemic, the report noted that “daily wage workers, paid worker by piece rate or work performed, paid non-family apprentice and street vendors” were highly vulnerable to the economic impact of Coronavirus.
The report also predicted that the growth of KP’s economy would decrease from 3.73 per cent in 2019 to 2.9pc this year, while the gross domestic product (GDP) would go down from Rs 13,35,942 million to Rs13,16,160million.
However, the report observed that there would be “minimal impact” on the province’s agricultural sector.
The report titled Coping Strategy: Mitigating Adverse Impact of Covid-19 on the Economy and Job Market in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also laid out the provincial government’s mechanisms to deal with the impact.
According to the report, some 1.5 million families in the province will benefit from the federal government’s Ehsas Cash Disbursement Program through which they would get Rs 12,000 every month.
The report voiced apprehension that the Covid-19 pandemic would also “render vulnerable” those people who do not fall under the federal government’s cash distribution program criteria. The government would therefore form a committee at the Village Council level that would identify vulnerable families who would receive Rs 6,000 from the government.
Certain sectors would also be exempted from tax payments, the report said. Construction, wholesale, retail and transport sectors would be eligible to benefit from these tax exemptions.
The government would also adopt a moratorium on loan payments for three months to “allow business higher liquidity to the most affected small and medium enterprises” while “mark-up due for the quarter ending 31 March would have to be paid by 15 June instead of 15 April”.
The government would also pay advance salaries to officers from grade 1 to 17 to “sustain demand” if needed.
The report stated that the government would also consider deferral of payment of utility bills for three months to help support small businesses and shopkeepers.