We must consider easing lockdown in stages, says Naqvi

Opposition leader lays out strategy for reopening industries, says wheel of economy must restart


News Desk April 07, 2020
PTI leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi. PHOTO: FILE

In a written appeal to Prime Minister Imran Khan and the chief ministers of all the provinces, Sindh Assembly opposition leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi said it was essential to consider easing the lockdown in stages, maintaining that "the wheel of the economy has to start again."

In the letter, dated Monday, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA pointed out that the mortality rate in the region was not comparable to that in Europe and the United States.

"We are a proud nation, who do not like to live on handouts. We would like to provide for our families ourselves," he stated, suggesting that the government should look at easing the lockdown first in sectors that would provide the most relief to the most people, especially the needy, while exposing the minimum number to the COVID-19 threat.

He pointed out that the country should not become dependent for food at any cost, and so, farmers must sow and harvest crops. For this, though, he added that they must be taught how to do so safely, through the use of protective gear and methods reducing the risk of exposure. "What they produce will save the nation from subjugation and economic misery," he asserted.

Naqvi further said restrictions should be eased for industries willing to follow the safety protocols that had been established internationally, such as safe transport for workers, body temperature and symptom monitoring and staging of shifts. This, he said, would reduce the pressure on both individuals as well as the government.

He suggested reopening multinational corporations, well-organised factories and the construction and logistics industries first, further proposing longer hours for daily-wage workers to operate in order to allow social distancing. However, he added, the closure of schools, entertainment facilities and social gatherings should continue.

The MPA advised the government to set up a committee to develop protocols for how to conduct business amid the pandemic, adding that there was an opportunity for exporters to take advantage of increased demand in developed countries.

Correction

In Monday's edition, The Express Tribune misquoted another letter by Naqvi as saying, "I like the 'new' [Sindh Chief Minister] Murad Ali Shah and hope to see him continue to be brave, decisive and honest."

Naqvi had actually written, "The new Murad Ali Shah I like, I hope he will not let the old one become alive again, we would like to see a bold, decisive, committed and an honest CM who will have zero tolerance for corruption and nepotism which has prevailed in the province for the last three decades." 

Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2020.

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