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Coronavirus-induced economic downturn can render 3 million people jobless: PM aide on finance

ISLAMABAD: As many as three million people could lose their jobs due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh told the Senate on Friday.

In a written reply submitted during today’s session of the upper house of parliament on his behalf, he said the coronavirus-induced economic downturn could render one million people in the industrial sector jobless while two million in the services sector.

Hafeez Shaikh said poverty rate would increase to 33.5 per cent from the existing of 24.3 pc while the fiscal deficit could balloon to 9.4 per cent from 7.5 per cent. He pointed out the rupee recorded 7.5 depreciation in its value in March due to the virus.

Read More: Govt not to impose new taxes in upcoming budget: Hafeez Shaikh

Speaking on the floor of the house, Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar said the country’s tax revenue witnessed a 30 per cent decline due to the adverse impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

He said the number of tax filers rose by 40 per cent to 2.6 million from 1.6 million over the previous year. “Our tax collection also witnessed 27 per cent growth before the emergence of Covid-19 but saw a 30 per cent decline in the post-pandemic period,” he pointed out.

Read More: Surgical, N-95 masks, Tyvek suits will not be exported: PM aide

He expressed the confidence that the situation will improve as business activities have resumed. He said well-off people who are still out of the tax net will be made to pay their due taxes.

Hammad Azhar said the tax collection from salaries of government employees in the fiscal year 2018-19 raked in Rs5.97 billion whereas Rs70.47 billion worth of tax was collected from employees of all provincial governments and other departments.

Read More: Fawad not to attend NA session due to coronavirus fears

The Senate session got underway at the parliament house in Islamabad today with Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani in the chair. The Senate chairman asked senators who don’t desire to speak on the floor to leave the hall due to the coronavirus fears.

He also limited the sitting of the upper house of parliament to two hours.

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