How many Pakistanis lost their livelihood due to COVID-19?

The Planning Commission on Thursday said the country’s 35 per cent population of 10 years and older was working before the onset of Covid-19, but due to closure of activities after implementation of lockdowns, this declined to 22pc. Read the detailed story here.

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Pakistan’s 20.76 million workforce suffered livelihood losses due to coronavirus-related lockdowns and a large majority of them got back to work after July 2020, an official survey reveals. The Planning Commission on Thursday said the country’s 35 per cent (about 55.74m) population of 10 years and older was working before the onset of Covid-19, but due to closure of activities after implementation of lockdowns, this declined to 22pc (about 35.04m people). “This means almost 20.76m population was affected,” the commission said, citing the survey conducted by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

A review meeting presided over by Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar expres­sed satisfaction that “after July the recovery process started and 33pc of population reported working after April-July 2020”. This means approximately 52.56m people started working again — almost a V-shaped recovery.

The meeting was told that livelihood of 17.07m households was affected due to lockdown restrictions. The survey evidence suggested that had the strict lockdown continued, devastating impacts might have been observed on the livelihoods of vulnerable groups of workers and their families.

The meeting was briefed on the results of the survey conducted to evaluate the impact of Covid-19 on the well-being of people. Information related to employment, income, remittances, food insecurity, health, coping strategies adopted by the household and assets to compile wealth quintiles had been collected in the survey.

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The meeting also reviewed the PBS’s initiative to develop a decision support system for inflation (DSSI) as part of the government’s “Digital Pakistan” programme. The system will enable the policymakers — National Price Monitoring Committee, provincial governments and district administration — to take evidence-based policy decision and address causes of inflation in the country. The DSSI is featured with providing market-level information, city-wise comparison of prices, time series data at the commodity level, etc. The system provides comparison of rates issued by the deputy commissioner and those collected by the PBS on a weekly basis, the meeting was informed.

How COVID-19 affected Pakistan’s economy?

GVS earlier reported social scientists believe that Pakistan is likely to face social chaos as a result of economic crisis. “People are running short of food now. There is no work for the daily wagers. There is nothing to earn,” said G-M Pitafi, professor of Politics and International Relations at UMT, Lahore.  He also feared that the street crimes may increase for people won’t have food and they will break both social norms and legal rules to fulfil their basic needs.

According to data released by the Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association (PAMA), passenger car sales dropped by 71.8% to only 5,796 units in March 2020 from 19,897 units sold during the same period last year. The decline in March is the largest ever decline in any month’s sales.

Passenger car sales in the cumulative period (July-March) dropped by 46.8% to 85,330 units, compared to 160,359 units sold during the corresponding period last year. With an exception to Suzuki’s Alto, as it was not produced in March last year, all variants of four-wheelers and above recorded a decline in sales.

Indus Motor launched its new Toyota Yaris in 1.3 and 1.5 variants, but it could not attract sales, as the country went on lockdown soon after its launch. In March, sales of car variants of 1300cc and above dropped by 59.2% to 3,498 units only as compared to 8,576 units sold during the same month in the previous year.

During July-March, sales of these cars dropped by 56% to 34,528 cars from 78,808 cars last year. Sale of Toyota Corolla decreased by 56% to 2,089 units against 4,741 units sold during March 2019, while the sale of Honda Civic and Honda City was also down by 61.5% to 1,327 cars from 3,449 units compared to the same period last year.

Suzuki Swift saw a decline of 78.7% to 82 cars sold from 386 cars sold last year. During this period, 1000cc cars, Suzuki Cultus and Suzuki WagonR, witnessed a drop in sales by 80.5% to 1,020 units against 5,235 units last year. Sales of under 800cc cars, despite Suzuki Alto’s off-take, dropped by 79% to 1,278 units in March against 6,086 units sold during the corresponding period last year.

Buses and trucks saw a decline of 40% in sales (July-March) to 3,265 units, from 5,428 units during the same period last year. Sale of jeeps decreased by 44.8% to 3,140 units during the period under review, from 5,688 units sold during July-March FY19.

Read more: IMF says coronavirus crisis may surpass the Great Depression: Can Pakistan receive furthur aid from the fund?

Similarly, tractor sales also decreased by 37.7% to 23,506 units in the nine months of FY20, from 37,742 units sold during the corresponding period last year. Rickshaws and motorbike sales dropped by 12.3% to 1.17 million units in the period under review from 1.33 million units sold last year.

Experts believe that both panic and widespread disease create some particular insecurities which do not allow people to spend money on anything other than their basic needs. At the same time, they maintain, the poor segment of the society is likely to oppose the existing order and lockdown since they don’t have anything to ensure their survival. It is yet to be seen whether the government’s efforts to address people’s grievances shall be addressed through Ehsas program or not.

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