Are Lockdowns Absolutely Necessary to Contain the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Many countries have imposed strict lockdowns to control the spread of coronavirus.  Marko Kolanovic of JP Morgan claims that numbers had declined because the virus "likely has its own dynamics" that are "unrelated to and often inconsistent lockdown measures".  He cites as evidence a number of places whose infection rates, or "R" values, have continued to fall despite restrictions being lifted.

Coronavirus Transmission Rates Before & After Lockdown. Source: JP Morgan


Are these absolutely necessary? What are its costs and benefits in terms of lives and livelihoods, particularly in developing countries like Pakistan with young populations?  Over 40% of all coronavirus deaths in Europe and America have occurred among the elderly living in nursing homes. Pakistanis age 60+ account for 19% of cases but 58% of deaths. Like US and Europe, older people are much more likely to die from coronavirus in Pakistan.  But average life expectancy in Pakistan is just 67 years and the median age in the country is only 22 years. The explanations offered for low death rates in South Asia include younger populations, more sunshinehigher temperature and humidity, universal BCG vaccinations etc. Yale researchers have argued in a recently published paper to consider universal mask adoption and increased hygiene measures as an alternative to complete lockdown.

Coronavirus Infections and Death Demographics. Source: Pakistan Health Ministry


Are there other tools such as compulsory face masks which can preserve both lives and livelihoods? In a recently published paper tiled "The Benefits and Costs of Social Distancing in Rich and PoorCountries", Yale researchers support universal mask adoption and increased hygiene measures as a alternatives to social distancing and complete lockdown.

What will be the impact of coronavirus lockdown on global economy?  European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borell has said "Analysts have long talked about the end of an American-led system and the arrival of an Asian century. This is now happening in front of our eyes," he said. "If the 21st century turns out to be an Asian century, as the 20th was an American one, the pandemic may well be remembered as the turning point of this process."

Does it impinge on civil liberties of the people? Could such lockdowns cause various physical and mental illnesses leading to deaths and high rates of suicides?

Despardes with Faraz Darvesh host discusses these questions with Ali Hasan Cemendtaur, Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq.

https://youtu.be/3HtPH8cnEPM




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Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
After Ferozsons, #Pakistan’s AGP Ltd., a partner of Mylan NV, becomes the 2nd drug maker to sell Gilead's #COVID treatment #remdesivir, which has been shown to improve recovery of coronavirus patients, within 1 to 2 months in the Asian nation. #coronavirus https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-05-31/mylan-s-pakistan-partner-to-sell-covid-19-drug-within-two-months

AGP plans to seek permission from the country’s drug authority to import the medicine, Chief Executive Officer Nusrat Munshi said in an interview. It has a similar arrangement for the Hepatitis C treatment Sovaldi, which it will import from Mylan. AGP is Mylan’s exclusive distributor in Pakistan.

The development comes a few weeks after remdesivir’s original creator Foster City, California-based Gilead Sciences Inc. signed agreements with four generic drug manufacturers in India, including Mylan’s unit in the country, and one in Pakistan to speed development and help meet anticipated demand. A unit of Pakistan’s Ferozsons Laboratories Ltd. is currently the only licensee in the country.

The global push to develop coronavirus treatments and vaccines is accelerating as governments look for ways to ease lockdowns safely and restart economies. Moderna Inc.’s vaccine passed a crucial early safety test last week, and countries from the U.K. to China are pushing ahead to develop their own vaccines. Gilead’s drug was originally developed in 2010 to treat Ebola.

Pakistan eased its lockdown by opening shopping malls and retail shops this month and saw a massive rush of people ahead of Eid festivities. A few markets were temporarily shut for not following social distancing rules in Karachi.

“The concept of a lockdown is that it gives the country’s health-care system time to prepare,” said Munshi, adding that health-care facilities including beds haven’t been ramped up and mass testing hasn’t been conducted.

AGP has also sold about 100,000 anti-body test kits since last month to hospitals and private companies looking to test their staff as more people return to work. The company has another 100,000 kits and is considering importing more as it is seeing high demand, according to Munshi.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan: COVID-19 – Situation Report (As of 31st May 2020)

Highlights

• The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan has risen to 69,496 as of 31th May. Increase of 3,039 new cases and 88 deaths in the last 24 hours. Pakistan records highest number of positive cases and deaths in last 24 hours.

• Death rate in reference to the total confirmed positive cases is 2.1%.

• The most affected province due to COVID-19 pandemic is Sindh 27,360, followed by Punjab 25,056.

• The Government of Pakistan declared wearing of masks mandatory at crowded places, markets and in public transport.

• The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has lifted a ban on prayers and congregations in nonMuslim places of worships.

• Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences Islamabad (PIMS) was provided additional ventilator beds to recover from the depleting resources following the emerging spike in covid-19 cases in Islamabad.

• Pakistan Railway will be operating 40 trains, out of 142, across Pakistan till complete control of covid-19 pandemic • Sindh Government has allowed private hospitals to established isolation wards to treat covid-19 patients, under the SOPs outlined by the Sindh healthcare commission.

• Recovery rate till 31st May 2020 is 36.4%.

https://reliefweb.int/report/pakistan/pakistan-covid-19-situation-report-31st-may-2020
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan sees alarming decrease in #COVID19 deaths doubling time, indicating increased transmission rates of #coronavirus in the #SouthAsian country. Time to act to slow infections rate. https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/doubling-time-covid-deaths?country=~PAK

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1267184369317187585?s=20
Riaz Haq said…
WHO's Mike Ryan: "..in South Asia, not just in India, but in Bangladesh and in Pakistan and other countries in South Asia with large dense populations, the disease has not exploded, but there is always the risk of that happening" #COVID19 #Pakistan #India https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/who-warns-of-covid19-explosion-risks-in-south-asia/1857685

Geneva, June 6 (IANS) The World Health Organization (WHO) said that as the COVID-19 cases were growing at an alarming rate in South Asia, there were risks of an explosion of the virus in the densely-populated region.

"Particularly in South Asia, not just in India, but in Bangladesh and in Pakistan and other countries in South Asia with large dense populations, the disease has not exploded, but there is always the risk of that happening," Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, said during a press conference here on Friday.

"And as the disease generates and gets a foothold in communities, it can accelerate at anytime," he added.

"The number of cases in India has been going up by an average of a third per week, so probably the doubling time of the epidemic in India is about three weeks at this stage.

"So the direction of travel of the epidemic is not exponential, but it is still growing," he said.

Ryan said the measures taken in India "certainly had an impact in dampening transmission, and as India, as in other large countries open up and as people begin to move again, there''s always a risk of the disease bouncing back up".

"I think the important thing is to really keep track of the the growth rate, the doubling time of the virus and make sure that that doesn''t get worse," said WHO''s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan.

As India is a "heterogeneous and huge country with very densely populated cities", Swaminathan said it''s important to wear face coverings.

As of Saturday, India has reported over 2.3 lakh COVID-19 cases, surpassing Italy. It is now in the sixth position with the highest number of infections in the world.

According to the Health Ministry, there were a total of 6,642 deaths.

After India, Pakistan is the worst affected in South Asia with 89,249 COVID-19 cases, and 1,935 fatalities.

Bangladesh follows in the third position with 60,391 infections and 811 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

With 18,969 cases and 309 deaths, Afghanistan is currently in the fourth position.

Nepal has reported 2,912 cases and 11 deaths, followed by Maldives 1,883 cases with seven deaths; and Sri Lanka with 1,801 cases and 11 deaths.

Bhutan has registered 48 cases with no fatalities.
Riaz Haq said…
Noam Chomsky: #India’s #Lockdown Is #Genocidal . ‘People in the informal economy, which is a huge number of people, are just cast out. Go walk back to your village, which may be a thousand miles away. Die on the roadside’. #Modi #COVID19 – EMPIRE DIARIES

A master orator on his heyday, his voice is now so weak and scratchy that one has to strain to follow what he’s saying. Yet, the ol’ man’s brain still runs like a well-oiled machine. His arguments still slice through ours like a knife on butter.

Noam Chomsky, arguably the most celebrated thinker, philosopher and political dissenter of our times, recently aired his candid opinion on the goings-on in India and various other simmering issues during an hour-long video conversation with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! Slamming the Indian administration for mishandling the coronavirus lockdown, he went as far as calling it “genocidal”.

On that revealing show, Goodman asked Chomsky about his thoughts on what is required in an international response to stop the rise of authoritarianism in response to the #COVID19 pandemic.

Chomsky replied, “The current #lockdown is almost… you can almost describe it as genocidal. (Indian Prime Minister Narendra) Modi gave, I think, a four-hour warning before a total lockdown. That’s (affected) over a #billion people. Some of them have nowhere to go.”

Here are some excerpts from that programme in which Chomsky addresses issues in India:



‘DIE ON THE ROADSIDE’

‘People in the informal economy, which is a huge number of people, are just cast out. Go walk back to your village, which may be a thousand miles away. Die on the roadside. This is a huge #catastrophe in the making, right on top of the strong efforts to impose the ultra-right #Hindutva doctrines that are at the core of Modi’s thinking and background.’



‘DESTROYING INDIA’S SECULAR DEMOCRACY’

‘Since you (Goodman) mentioned India, Modi, who is a Hindu nationalist extremist, is systematically moving to destroy Indian secular #democracy and to crush the Muslim population. What’s happening in #Kashmir is horrifying. It was bad enough before, now it’s getting much worse. Same with the Muslim population; a huge population in #India.



‘INDIA WILL SOON BECOME UNLIVABLE’

‘India and in fact South Asia generally, is going to become unlivable pretty soon, if current #climate policies persist. Last summer, the temperature in Rajasthan went up to 50 degrees Celsius. And it’s increasing. There are millions of people in India who don’t have access to water. It’s going to get much worse, which could lead to a nuclear war between the two powers that basically rely on the same water resources, which are declining under #globalwarming: Pakistan and India. I mean, the horror story that’s developing is, again, indescribable. You can’t find words for it. And some people are cheering about it, like (US President) Donald Trump and his friend (Brazil President) Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil… a couple of other sociopaths.’
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistani #Harvard doctoral student Talha Irfan commits suicide in the #US after he failed to overcome depression caused by prolonged isolation at his apartment after #lockdown imposed in the country to control spread of novel #coronavirus. #COVID19

https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/07-Jun-2020/pakistani-phd-student-dies-in-us-due-to-lockdown-depression#:~:text=Talha%20Irfan%20Khawan%2C%2023%2C%20was,Irfan%20and%20Dr%20Irfan%20Waheed

A PhD student of Pakistan origin died in the US after he failed to overcome depression caused by prolonged isolation at his apartment after lockdown imposed in the country to control spread of novel coronavirus, local media reported.

Talha Irfan Khawan, 23, was student of renowned Harvard University where he had gotten admission after accomplishing his Masters degree in Astrophysics from Chicago University.

The deceased student was the only son of head of endocrinology department in Services Hospital, Lahore Dr Khadija Irfan and Dr Irfan Waheed.

Talha was under stress due to lockdown situation, local media said citing family sources. The aggrieved family is in contact with consulate for repatriation of his body.

The coronavirus cases have surged to 1,993,328 in the US amid efforts to develop vaccine to fight off the virus. The death toll has reached 112,142.





Riaz Haq said…
#WorldBank #Economic Forecast: #India's #GDP to contract by 3.2% and #Pakistan's GDP to decline 2.6% in fiscal year 2020/21 due to #COVID19 #lockdowns https://www.freepressjournal.in/business/indias-economy-to-contract-by-32-in-fiscal-year-202021-world-bank


India's economy will shrink by 3.2 per cent in the current fiscal, the World Bank said on Monday as it joined a chorus of international agencies that are forecasting a contraction in growth rate due to the coronavirus lockdown halting economic activity.

The Washington-based multilateral lender said that the COVID-19 pandemic and the multi-phased lockdown imposed to curb its spread has resulted in a devastating blow to the Indian economy.

In its latest edition of the Global Economic Prospect, the World Bank downgraded its projection of India by a massive negative nine per cent.

---------

Pakistan and Afghanistan are both projected to experience contractions in 2020. The mitigation measures imposed in these countries are expected to weigh heavily on private consumption, contributing to output contractions of -2.6 per cent and -5.5 per cent respectively, it said, adding that key labor-intensive export sectors like textiles are expected to contract sharply and subsequently recover slowly.

Bangladesh and Nepal are projected to experience substantial decelerations in fiscal year 2019/20. In Bangladesh, growth is expected to slow to 1.6 per cent, as the recovery in industrial production is reversed by COVID-19-related disruptions such as mitigation measures and global exports plunge, and as remittances fall.

https://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/global-economic-prospects
Riaz Haq said…
Here's another graphic comparison this time between Pakistan and Indian state of Maharashtra (prepared by an expert). This shows how terribly Maharashtra has performed in relation to Pakistan. Shows the outcome of bad decisions & their deadly consequences #COVIDー19
(1/2)

While Indian state of UP has lower mortality rate than Pakistan, Maharashtra has higher rate despite younger population & higher GDP/capita. We must know what UP did right & Maharashtra did wrong to learn right lessons (2/2)

https://twitter.com/Fahdhusain/status/1269650837967691777?s=20
Riaz Haq said…
With over 3,300 active cases and 230 deaths in a population of 230 million, is the country’s most populous state of UP a successful model for other states to follow or is it likely to see a turn for the worse in the fight against Covid-19?

--------

Critics say UP has done among the least number of tests per million (1,337), about half the national average, and about 309,000 tests in all or less than 0.15% of its population, which explains the low number of cases. Rajasthan and Maharashtra, with much lesser populations, have tested more than 450,000 people apiece.

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/up-claims-success-in-covid-battle-despite-poor-testing/articleshow/76184691.cms

Riaz Haq said…
Economic Survey of Pakistan 2019-20


http://www.finance.gov.pk/survey/chapter_20/Executive_Summary.pdf


As the economy has been subjected to demand and supply shocks, the outgoing fiscal year
2020 has witnessed a contraction in economic activity. The provisional GDP growth rate for
FY2020 is estimated at negative 0.38 percent on the basis of 2.67, -2.64 and -0.59 percent
growth in agricultural, industrial and services sectors respectively. For FY2020, the negative
performance of both Industry and Services overshadowed the growth in the agriculture
sector.

------
Total public debt was recorded at Rs 35,207 billion at end March 2020 compared with
Rs 32,708 billion at end June 2019, registering an increase of Rs 2,499 billion during first
nine month of current fiscal year while Federal Government borrowing for financing of its
deficit was Rs 2,080 billion. This differential is mainly attributable to depreciation of Pak
Rupee, increase in cash balances of the Federal Government and difference between face
value (which is used for recording of debt) and the realized value (which is recorded as
budgetary receipt) of PIBs issued during the period.

-------------

During Jul-April FY2020, remittances increased to $ 18.8 billion as compared to $ 17.8
billion during same period last year, with a growth of 5.5 percent. During July-March
FY2020, current account deficit (CAD) reduced by 73.1 percent to US$ 2.8 billion (1.1
percent of GDP) against US$ 10.3 billion last year (3.7 percent of GDP). The significant
reduction in CAD reflected mainly the impact of macroeconomic stabilization measures
taken by the government.
Pakistan’s total liquid foreign exchange reserves increased to US$ 17.1 billion by end March
2020, up by US$ 2.6 billion over end-June 2019. The improvement in the Foreign Exchange
reserves led to 3.6 percent appreciation of Pak rupee against US dollar during Jul-February
FY2020.

-------------

Exports during July-April, 2019-20 remained $ 19.7 billion compared to $ 20.1 billion
during July-March, 2018-19, posting a decline of 2.4 percent. A sharp decline in REER due
to market based exchange rate and the government’s initiative to provide cheaper electricity
to the textile sector have enhanced the competitiveness of the Pakistani products in the
global market. The total imports during July-April FY2020 declined to $ 36.1 billion as
compared to $ 40.3 billion same period last year, thus registered a decline of 16.9 percent.
During Jul-April FY2020, remittances increased to $ 18.8 billion as compared to $ 17.8
billion during same period last year, with a growth of 5.5 percent. During July-March
FY2020, current account deficit (CAD) reduced by 73.1 percent to US$ 2.8 billion (1.1
percent of GDP) against US$ 10.3 billion last year (3.7 percent of GDP). The significant
reduction in CAD reflected mainly the impact of macroeconomic stabilization measures
taken by the government.
Riaz Haq said…
BMA forecasts #Pakistan #cement sector revival, backed by initiation of #ImranKhan's Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme and #construction package. Sees return to prosperity with 5% growth in FY21 (last 6 months) and 7-8% growth after that as #lockdown ends. https://www.cemnet.com/News/story/168992/return-to-prosperity-forecast-for-pakistan-s-cement-sector.html

Pakistan's cement industry is likely to prosper in the coming months, due to some positive developments at the local and international level, anticipated by three of Pakistan's leading research houses.

BMA Capital Management forecasts that the cement sector is showing signs of revival, backed by initiation of the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme and construction package announced by the government. Moreover, the easing of lockdowns has raised hopes for improved cement dispatches in the coming months.

Meanwhile, Al Habib Capital Markets states that cement dispatches are estimated to increase modestly due to the gradual easing of lockdowns and the possible announcement of relief measures in the Budget FY21, aimed at increasing construction-related activities.

In addition, Intermarket Securities adds that, despite a slow demand outlook, cement sector profitability is likely to resurge in FY21/22. This would be due to key supporting factors, such as lower international oil and coal prices (energy cost savings) and a steep decline in interest rates by the Central Bank of Pakistan.

It estimated that cement demand and prices will rebound strongly from the 2HFY21 onwards, when the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to be more manageable. Thus, the government will likely have more fiscal space to push construction activity – especially the low-cost housing scheme.

Intermarket Securities has upgraded the estimates for the cement industry, in light of the steep declines in international coal and oil prices, and the abrupt and significant cuts in interest rates in Pakistan. Lower coal prices (down 26 per cent YoY in the 4QFY20) is a boon, as coal remains the most significant input cost, along with a shift to furnace oil for power. Secondly, the decrease in interest rate by 525bps will drastically reduce finance costs and boost the bottom-line.

The analytical company, however, remains conservative on its demand growth outlook until the end-1HFY20. It foresees a five per cent YoY growth in FY21 (last six months) and 7-8 per cent YoY growth in the ensuing years. Whereas, during FY19/20 the sector saw intense price competition, where even the major players pushed sales at low prices. It believed that the government could have better fiscal space to push infrastructure from the 2HFY20 onwards. Thus, cement prices will start recovering more strongly.

It anticipated that retail prices will rise to PKR610/bag (US$3.75) in the north and PKR700/bag in the south by the end of FY21, from PKR480/bag and PKR620/bag, respectively, in March 2020.

Having said that, the risks of lower cement prices and depressed demand had not been wholly allayed. Weakness can emanate from the lack of an increase in government spending from FY20 levels (flattish budget allocation or PSDP), a delay in the start of low-cost housing schemes or a concurrent slowdown in exports. Prolonged lockdown conditions could also lead to severe liquidity issues for some producers.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan unveils Rs. 7.3 trillion ($44.17 billion) for fiscal 20-21. Rs. 1.3 trillion for #defense. No new taxes. Big jump in #socialsector spending in response to #COVID19. Ehsaas program gets Rs. 208 billion. Rs. 70 billion to contain #coronavirus. https://gulfnews.com/business/pakistan-unveils-44-billion-2020-21-national-budget-1.1592020205055

On Friday, Federal Minister for Industries and Production, Hammad Azhar, presented the budget of 7,294.9 billion PKR ($44 billion) for the upcoming fiscal year starting from July 2020 to June 2021 at the lower house of Parliament after approval by the cabinet, reports Xinhua news agency.

In his speech in Parliament, the Minister said that COVID-19 has seriously affected the developing economies like Pakistan, and the pandemic has affected not only health sector but also has social and economic implications.

Economic activity in the country slowed down due to lockdown imposed by the government to stop the spread of the virus, and the whole activity also had a negative impact on the GDP rate and investment, he said.

No new income tax
No new income tax has been imposed in the budget as the government wants to enhance the tax net to make more people pay taxes rather than levying more taxes on the taxpayers.

The new budget also focused on fiscal management, revenue mobilization, measures for economic stabilization and growth, reduction in non-development expenditures, boosting exports, job creation and people friendly policies for the socioeconomic prosperity of the country.

A total of 1.3 trillion PKR have been allocated for defence expenditures for the forthcoming financial year, Azhar said.

To contain COVID-19, the government allocated 70 billion PKR.

Special Ecnomic Zones
While for Special Economic Zones to be built under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the government has allocated 70 billion PKR whereas 26 billion more will be spent on other CPEC projects including a major railway project, Azhar said.

For science and technology, 20 billion PKR have been allocated whereas 5 billion more will go to educational reform.

The government also set inflation target for the forthcoming fiscal year at 6.5 per cent.

Furthermore, the government has decided to postpone repayment of any foreign debt till FY2022 to divert critical resources to crisis management.

After the presentation of the budget, debate on the proposed budget will be followed in the succeeding sessions of the house, after which it is likely to be approved from the lower house formally by the end of this month.

After approval from the lower house, the budget will be presented in the upper house.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan Budget Speech 2020-21

https://www.brecorder.com/news/1004078/budget-speech-2020-21

-----------

Incentivizing Development REIT Scheme

To incentivize development and construction of residential building through REIT scheme, profit realized from sale of immoveable property is exempted from tax if sold with object of development and construction of residential buildings till 30th June 2020. It is proposed to be extended until 30th

-----------------

We have also provided historic construction sector incentives for economic revival and creation of jobs by introducing a concessionary taxation regime as under;
a) Fixed Tax Regime

b) No WHT on builders and developers (except steel & cement purchases)

c) Source of income shall not be asked

d) Capital Gains tax on one family house exempted

e) 90% tax waived for affordable housing

f) Status of an industry given

--------------

Ehsas - Budget allocation for this flagship program has been increased from Rs 187 billion to Rs 208 billion, which includes various social safety initiatives including BISP, Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal and other departments. These allocations will be used as per the approved policy of the Government in transparent manner.

Subsidies - An amount of Rs 179 billion has been allocated to provide various subsidies in energy, food and other sectors. The Government has decided to re-orient and redirect subsidies to target the vulnerable segments only.

b) Higher Education- Higher education has been adequately funded and allocation for HEC has been increased from Rs 59 billion during 2019-20 to Rs 64 billion.

c) Housing Sector- The Government has promised to provide low cost housing units to the masses. In this regard, an amount of Rs 30 billion has been provided to Naya Pakistan Housing Authority for realization of this dream. Moreover, an amount of Rs 1.5 billion has been allocated for low cost housing through scheme of Qarz-e-Hasna of Akhuwat Foundation.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan Budget Speech 2020-21

https://www.brecorder.com/news/1004078/budget-speech-2020-21

Education

We have funded projects for improvement of education system through development of uniform curriculum, standard examination system, establishment of smart school and mainstreaming of madaris. An amount of Rs 5 billion has been allocated for these reforms. Moreover, higher education is one of the priority sector of the government to meet the challenges of 21st century quality education in the fields of research and other advanced areas like artificial technology, robotics and automation, space technology. An amount of Rs 30 billion has been allocated to achieve excellence in education.
Science & Information Technology

To train the manpower in the emerging technologies, knowledge economy initiatives etc it is imperative to enhance the capabilities of researchers and research institutes. Moreover, focus is on e-governance, IT enabled services and start ups and launching of 5G cellular services. For projects in these fields, allocation of Rs 20 billion has been made. Under Public Private Partnership, projects in the field of chemicals, electronics and Precision Agriculture will be implemented and the linkage between R&D and industry will be strengthened.
Climate Change

With the evolving global perspective on Climate Change, Pakistan is also adapting itself. Climate Change is responsible for the many shifting trends in Pakistan including off- season rains, shift in crop yields and heavy flooding. This year, the government is allocating Rs. 6 billion to Climate Change initiatives.
Special Areas

In addition to the allocations under current budget, the government has allocated development funds of Rs 40 billion for projects in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Moreover, an amount of Rs 48 billion is allocated for projects in merged district of KPK.
Sustainable Development Goals Programs

To achieve Sustainable Development Goals, an amount of Rs 24 billion has been allocated in the development budget.
Food & Agriculture

For food security and agriculture, an amount of Rs 12 billion has been allocated.
Other Development Programmes

In addition to the allocations under PSDP, special funds amounting to Rs 20 billion have been allocated for management of TDPs in merged districts of KPK. Whereas for rehabilitation of Afghanistan, an amount of Rs 2 billion has been allocated.
Taxation

Mr. Speaker,

Now I present Part II of the speech, which consists of tax proposals.

Today Pakistan's tax-to-GDP ratio stands at 11% which is the lowest among emerging countries. Regrettably this key indicator of fiscal strength has remained stagnant over the past 20 years. To improve this situation, we initiated a reform process, comprising of holistic strategy combining policy and administrative reforms to eliminate the distortions and boost quality revenue collection. The efforts have so far produced encouraging results with a promising future. Following key achievements have been made during the year:

The historical trend of Pakistan's import-led growth has been replaced with high domestic-led growth.

Unprecedented refunds have been issued which are 119% higher than last year

The narrow tax base has been expanded by bringing retailers into the tax net, and successful installation of Point of Sales (POS) system at 6,616 retail outlets with the aim to increase the number to 15,000 by December this year. Covid-19 has affected the business of common man, it is proposed to decrease sales tax rate from 14% to 12% for business registered with POS. This will give relief to common man and to business also. The measure will help in documentation of economy.

Hotel and restaurant industry has been badly affected due to Covid-19. It is proposed that minimum tax for the industry may be reduced from 1.5% to 0.5% for six months (April to September 2020)

A tax return mobile app has been launched to facilitate individuals and salaried persons, which led to an increase of 37% in the number of income tax return filers.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #Budget 20/21: Gross revenue receipts estimated at Rs 6.5 trillion of which provincial share is Rs 2.9 trillion. Public Sector #Development budget is Rs 1.3 billion, of which Rs 676 billion is allocated to provinces. #Defense gets Rs 1.3 trillion https://nation.com.pk/12-Jun-2020/salient-features-of-federal-budget-2020-21

The budget 2020-21 has the following salient features:

–Total outlay of budget 2020-21 is Rs 7,294.9 billion. This size is 11 percent lower than the size of budget estimates 2019-20.

–The resource availability during 2020-21 has been estimated at Rs 6,314.9 billion against Rs 4,917.2 billion in the budget estimates of 2019-20.

–The net revenue receipts for 2020-21 have been estimated at Rs 3,699.5 billion indicating an increase of 6.7 percent over the budget estimates of 2019-20.

–The provincial share in federal taxes is estimated at Rs 2,873.7 billion during

2020-21, which is 11.7 percent lower than the budget estimates for 2019-20.

–The net capital receipts for 2020-21 have been estimated at Rs 1,463.2 billion against the budget estimates of Rs 831.7 billion in 2019-20 reflecting an increase of 75.93 percent.

–The external receipts in 2020-21 are estimated at Rs 2,222.9 billion. This shows a decrease of 26.7 percent over the budget estimates for 2019-20.

–The overall expenditure during 2020-21 has been estimated at Rs 7,294.9 billion, out of which the current expenditure is Rs 6,345 billion.

–The development expenditure outside PSDP has been estimated at Rs 70 billion in the budget 2020-21.

–The size of Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for 2020-21 is Rs 1,324 billion. Out of this, Rs 676 billion has been allocated to provinces.
–Federal PSDP has been estimated at Rs 650 billion, out of which Rs 418.7 billion for Federal Ministries/Divisions, Rs 100.4 billion for Corporations, Rs 3 billion for Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA), Rs 7 billion for COVID responsive and other natural calamities programme.


Riaz Haq said…
My Twitter response to retired Indian Col Pavan Nair

"Do note the allocation for defence and the combat power generated. Compare with Indian defence spending @ 4x and generation of 2x the power. Whither efficacy of spending the defence rupee"

https://twitter.com/pavannair/status/1271852305042640897?s=20


RH: #India focuses more on expensive platforms than on #sensors & #weapons. Examples: Rafale and big ships. #Pakistan's inexpensive #JF17 with its AESA radar & PL-15 air-to-air missile can take on very expensive #Rafale & Pak anti-ship missile can sink a ship

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1271861258623442945?s=20
Riaz Haq said…
2.229m people to die in Pakistan if lockdown not imposed?

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/672563-2-229m-people-to-die-in-pakistan-if-lockdown-not-imposed

The Imperial College London's algorithm creates the picture that Pakistan will reach the peak on August 10, 2020 on which day around 80,000 deaths will occur.

The research is sponsored by the UK government which shows the projected deaths from coronavirus in case of lockdown or otherwise in different countries, except the US and the UK. The website says about Pakistan that if it imposes 32 percent lockdown from February 27 to July 11, i.e. for 135 days, then August 04 will be the peak day with 13,570,000 people will be affected. The worst day for Pakistan concerning corona deaths is expected at August 10 and deaths are projected to reach 78,515 after which deaths will start witnessing decrease.

The website says January 2021 will witness end to corona in Pakistan and on January 26, 2021, total death toll in Pakistan from corona would be 2,132,617. It said if the lockdown was not imposed then 2,229,000 deaths will occur in Pakistan by January 26, 2021. If complete lockdown was imposed in Pakistan immediately, then death toll may be restricted to about 10,200 by end period.

In India, total deaths by Jan 25, 2021, would be 14,244,379 without intervention, while with intervention it would be 13,649,520

In Afghanistan, total deaths by Feb 19, 2021 would be 313,531 without intervention. While with intervention the figure would be 305,350.

In Brazil, total deaths by Jan 24, 2021 without intervention would be 2,926,348 and with intervention to be 1,519,453. The figures given by the Imperial College are just a simulation, and not a predication.
Riaz Haq said…
Epidemiologist Neil Ferguson Who Advocates #coronavirus #Lockdown Quits Advisor Role. He had predicted that 250,000 coronavirus deaths #UK (actual 41,000) and 1 million deaths in #US (actual 117,000). He's now predicting 2.3 million deaths in #Pakistan. https://www.voanews.com/covid-19-pandemic/uk-scientist-who-warned-over-virus-quits-lockdown-breach

On March 16, (Imperial College epidemiologist Neil) Ferguson and colleagues published a paper suggesting that even with some social distancing measures, the U.K. could see 250,000 coronavirus deaths and that the U.S. might have about 1 million deaths. In a worst-case scenario, Ferguson predicted those figures could more than double in both countries.

https://www.voanews.com/covid-19-pandemic/uk-scientist-who-warned-over-virus-quits-lockdown-breach

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Imperial College epidemiologist Neil Ferguson developed models that predicted hundreds of thousands would die unless the U.K. imposed drastic restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus. His advice was key in triggering Britain's lockdown in March. Under the rules, people are barred from visiting friends and family that they don't live with.

Ferguson quit the government's scientific advisory panel late Tuesday after the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that a woman he is in a relationship with had crossed London to visit him at his home.

Ferguson said in a statement that he had "made an error of judgment and took the wrong course of action."

"I deeply regret any undermining of the clear messages around the continued need for social distancing to control this devastating epidemic," he said.
Riaz Haq said…
#Texas A&M Study: Face #Masks Critical In Preventing Spread Of #COVID19. Researchers estimate that the measure prevented more than 66,000 infections in New York City #NYC in less than a month. #coronavirus https://today.tamu.edu/2020/06/12/texas-am-study-face-masks-critical-in-preventing-spread-of-covid-19/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=SocialWarfare_&utm_campaign

A study by a team of researchers led by a Texas A&M University professor has found that not wearing a face mask dramatically increases a person’s chances of being infected by the COVID-19 virus.

Renyi Zhang, Texas A&M Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and the Harold J. Haynes Chair in the College of Geosciences, and colleagues from the University of Texas, the University of California-San Diego and the California Institute of Technology have had their work published in the current issue of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

The team examined the chances of COVID-19 infection and how the virus is easily passed from person to person. Comparing trends and mitigation procedures in China, Italy and New York City, the researchers found that using a face mask reduced the number of infections by more than 78,000 in Italy from April 6-May 9 and by over 66,000 in New York City from April 17-May 9.

“Our results clearly show that airborne transmission via respiratory aerosols represents the dominant route for the spread of COVID-19,” Zhang said. “By analyzing the pandemic trends without face-covering using the statistical method and by projecting the trend, we calculated that over 66,000 infections were prevented by using a face mask in little over a month in New York City. We conclude that wearing a face mask in public corresponds to the most effective means to prevent inter-human transmission.

“This inexpensive practice, in conjunction with social distancing and other procedures, is the most likely opportunity to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. Our work also highlights that sound science is essential in decision-making for the current and future public health pandemics.”

One of the paper’s co-authors, Mario Molina, is a professor at the University of California-San Diego and a co-recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his role in understanding the threat to the Earth’s ozone layer of man-made halocarbon gases.

“Our study establishes very clearly that using a face mask is not only useful to prevent infected coughing droplets from reaching uninfected persons, but is also crucial for these uninfected persons to avoid breathing the minute atmospheric particles (aerosols) that infected people emit when talking and that can remain in the atmosphere tens of minutes and can travel tens of feet,” Molina said.

Zhang said that many people in China have worn face masks for years, mainly because of the bad air quality of the country.

“So people there are sort of used to this,” he said. “Mandated face-covering helped China in containing the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Zhang said the results should send a clear message to people worldwide – wearing a face mask is essential in fighting the virus.

“Our work suggests that the failure in containing the propagation of COVID-19 pandemic worldwide is largely attributed to the unrecognized importance of airborne virus transmission,” he said. “Social-distancing and washing our hands must continue, but that’s not sufficient enough protection. Wearing a face mask as well as practicing good hand hygiene and social distancing will greatly reduce the chances of anyone contracting the COVID-19 virus.”

The study was funded by the Robert A. Welch Foundation.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan PM #ImranKhan unveils Rs. 330 billion for low-cost #housing incentives, including down payment assistance, low-cost #mortgage financing and Sharia-compliant loans. Banks to set aside 5% of portfolios for mortgage lending. #NayaPakistanHousing https://tribune.com.pk/story/2254544/pm-imran-unveils-mortgage-financing-plan-to-revive-virus-hit-economy

Prime Minister Imran Khan has made another move to revive the coronavirus-hit economy with an initiative to promote the housing and construction sector with Rs330 billion of mortgage financing by the commercial banks in just 18 months.

The prime minister himself unveiled the plan for the revival of the construction sector after a maiden meeting of the newly formed National Coordination Committee on Housing and Construction on Friday.

Commenting on the government's initiative, a leading property developer and businessman Ejaz Gohar said that it was the first plan, which would make it affordable for the low and middle income people to build houses with mortgage financing of as low as 5 to 7% mark-up.

The commercial banks would allocate 5% of their portfolio amounting to Rs330 billion for the construction activities.

He noted that around Rs20 trillion was circulating in the informal unregistered economy and now was the opportunity for the people to get the huge amount of money declared by investing in the real estate sector by December 31, 2020.

Now a person with an income of Rs30,000 to Rs100,000 can build a house of 5-marla with the mortgage financing at 5% and that of 10-marla at 7% mark-up.

Gohar observed that mortgage financing started in the United States 82 years back to kick-start its economy. The government will give a subsidy of Rs30 billion for the construction of houses.

The prime minister has planned to hold meetings of the housing coordination committee every week to remove hurdles that come in the way as the country is far behind in terms of home mortgage financing as compared to the developed world.

As Covid-19 had hit hard the global economy, Pakistan too suffered a great deal due to the pandemic with rise in unemployment and shutting down of businesses, the government's measures for the construction sector would be a much needed timely relief.

Many economically strong countries like China, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain were forced to impose strict lockdowns spread over months to contain the cases of Covid-19. However, economically fragile countries like Pakistan were caught in a dilemma as the option of complete lockdown was a recipe for disaster, especially for the vulnerable section of the society which comprised a significant portion of the country’s population.

Prime Minister Imran Khan – known for his leadership qualities since his cricketing days – went for a policy of smart lockdown, balancing the need to halt the spread of coronavirus and keep different sectors of the economy functional simultaneously.

The strategy largely worked and the primary sectors of economy are now open with the number of coronavirus cases after hitting the peak are lowering on a daily basis.

In order to deal with the adverse effects of Covid-19, the government had announced a relief package worth Rs1.2 trillion on March 24.

An important component of Pakistan's economic revival plan was the second phase of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Despite hurdles, Pakistan and China went ahead with the second phase of the mega project during the last two years. After undertaking of the infrastructure, road and energy projects across Pakistan in the first phase, the focus was shifted to the building of eight special economic zones and socioeconomic and human development with the Chinese financial assistance of $1 billion.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government established the CPEC Authority and appointed Lt General (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa as it head.

Bajwa set his sights on executing vital projects, including M8 motorway from Gwadar (Balochistan) to Ratodero (Sindh) and $230 million Gwadar international airport.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #FDI jumps 88% to $2.561 billion in FY20. Top sectors: #power ($764.3m) & #communications ($663.9m). #China top source with net FDI of $844.1 million, followed by #Norway $402 million and #HongKong $190.7 million. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/688274-fdi-jumps-88pc-to-2-561bln-in-fy20

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Pakistan jumped 88 percent in the fiscal year of 2019/20, with most of the inflows going into power and communications sectors, led by China, numbers released by State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) showed on Friday.


Pakistan attracted $2.561 billion FDI in July to June FY2020, compared with $1.362 billion in the previous fiscal year.

The direct investment, however, was lower than the government’s target of $4.34 billion set for FY2020. This was due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s negative impact on investments that were felt strongly.

The FDI was up 70.53 percent year-on-year to $174.8 million in June. It stood at $102.5 million during the same month of last fiscal year.

The SBP data showed that China remained the largest investor with a net FDI of $844.1 million in FY2020, followed by Norway (402 million) and Hong Kong ($190.7 million).

FDI in the power sector attracted $764.3 million foreign capital in July-June FY2020. However, investors pulled out $323.9 million from this sector in FY2019. The increase in the FDI in energy companies is attributed to an ongoing work on the CEPC-related projects especially in the thermal and coal-fired projects. Eight energy projects have been completed and nine are currently under construction.

Communications sector inflows in the FY2020 stood at $663.9 million, while the communications businesses saw an outflow of $55.7 million a year earlier.

Foreign funds managers pulled $241.3 million from the government securities such as treasury bills and Pakistan Investment Bonds in FY2020. That compared with $1 billion outflows in FY2019. Outflows from the stock market stood at $281.7 million, compared with $415.2 million in previous year.

Total foreign investment amounted to $2.038 billion in FY2020 against the outflows of $54.8 million in FY2019.
Riaz Haq said…
Coronavirus: Youthful Pakistan appears to avoid worst of pandemic
By Secunder Kermani
BBC News

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-53742214

With around 6,000 coronavirus deaths in a population of approximately 230 million people, Pakistan appears to have fared far better than most Western countries. The UK, for example, has recorded more than 41,000 deaths in a population of around 67 million. Cities in neighbouring India, such as Delhi and Mumbai, seem to have been worse affected.

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Testing has been relatively low, and numbers are in fact decreasing. There are certainly many more coronavirus cases than the roughly 290,000 officially recorded, but the recorded drop in infections is substantiated by the fact that the proportion of tests that come back as positive has also been decreasing, as have hospital admissions.

Data obtained by the BBC from officials in the country's two largest cities, Karachi and Lahore, show that there was a significant rise in graveyard burials in June that can't be explained by coronavirus deaths alone.

For example, in Miani Sahib graveyard, the largest in Lahore, in June 2020 there were 1,176 burials this June, compared to 696 in June last year.

Only 48 of the burials this June were of officially recorded coronavirus patients. The rise is likely to be a combination of undetected coronavirus deaths, and patients suffering from other illnesses not getting treatment as hospitals were under such pressure.

Similarly, in Karachi, June 2020 saw significantly more burials than at any other time during the past two years.

However, in both cities burial figures appear to be returning to more normal rates. Even if some of the "excess deaths" are assumed to be the result of coronavirus, by international standards the mortality rate in Pakistan appears to be relatively low, though not quite as low as official data would suggest.

For leading Pakistani epidemiologist Dr Rana Jawad Asghar, the principal reason for this is Pakistan's young population. The average age in Pakistan is 22 years, compared to about 41 in the UK. The vast majority of deaths globally from the coronavirus have been of elderly patients.

Dr Asghar told the BBC that less than 4% of Pakistan's population is aged 65 and above, whereas in more developed countries the proportion is around 20-25%. "That is why we haven't seen that many deaths in Pakistan," he said.

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