Cabinet gives nod to easing lockdown restrictions after May 9
Ministers leave final decision to NCC meeting on Wednesday
ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday concurred to further ease the lockdown after May 9 but left the final decision in this regard to the National Coordination Committee (NCC), which would meet on Wednesday (today) with all the chief ministers in attendance.
A cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, delayed a summary for printing currency notes without varnishing for two months, and rejected a proposal for import of 429 medicines and their raw material from India.
The ministers allowed inclusion of 61 food and non-food items in the quality control list of Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) and approved a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the United States to raise funds for the prime minister’s relief fund.
The cabinet meeting held threadbare discussion on the coronavirus situation in the country. Planning Minister Asad Umar briefed the ministers about the pandemic and the measures to contain it, Information Minister Shibli Faraz told a press conference after the meeting.
Firms may resume operations from May 10
“A meeting on coronavirus will be held in which all the chief ministers will participate. The meeting will decide on easing the lockdown after May 9,” Faraz told reporters. “According to the SOPs [standard operating procedures] issued by the government, business will be opened at specific times before Eid.”
Faraz said that Dr Sania Nishtar gave a briefing to the cabinet members on financial assistance being provided to the downtrodden under the Ehsas programme. She told ministers that so far, 8 million people had been added to the list of those needing assistance.
The minister said that the prime minister always insisted on taking care of the workers. “The battle against Covid-19 pandemic can be won by staying indoors. “Only with precaution can we win this war against the coronavirus,” Faraz added. “Imran Khan thinks only of the poor.”
At the cabinet meeting, he said Prime Minister Imran listened to every minister’s suggestion. “He [Prime Minister Imran] takes decisions after taking everyone into confidence,” he added. “The prime minister, and the ministers have announced that they will donate one month’s salary to the Corona Relief Fund.”
During the meeting, Imran directed the interior ministry to improve the environment in police stations. Faraz told reporters that appointments of 76 people made by previous governments in violation of the rules were being reviewed. He added the prime minister wanted election process to be transparent.
Responding to criticism from opposition parties, the Information Minister said that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb’s anger portrayed that if an honourable man had been disrespected.
“PML-N leadership considers itself above the law. When the N-League was in power, they considered themselves kings. The people know how they looted the country. The PML-N launched projects for their own personal gains,” the minister said.
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“[Former prime minister] Nawaz Sharif is living comfortably in his house in London worth billions. If Shahbaz Sharif [PML-N President] had to work on a laptop, he could have done it from London,” the minister told reporters.
Then turning to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Faraz asked Sindh minister Saeed Ghani to explain why the PPP was confined to one province only. “The situation in Larkana and Sindh was better 50 years ago than it is today. It looks like the PPP will shrink further in the province just to Larkana.”
On a personal note, the information minister informed the press conference that he had a test for coronavirus which came back negative.