Prior to the calamity of the COVID-19, Ms Seema used to visit over ten houses every day to teach children. She is the sole breadwinner since her husband’s income is reliant on the daily labour if offered by someone. Both the husband and wife used to work, however, the income of Ms Seema was stable vis-à-vis her husband’s since she used to get fee at any cost within the first ten days of every month. Her husband’s income was solely contingent on the opportunity and was also barely half of what Ms Seema used to earn. The entire family lives in a shack in the impoverished neighborhood of Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi. The fear coupled with precautionary measures compelled almost all parents to ask Ms Seema to quit visiting their houses. This jolted the entire family of Ms Seema since they floundered about the monthly expenses. Both are out of work since the last week of February so the income has come to a standstill rather they have incurred debt since they need staples to survive. They owe substantial amount to the greengrocer, the grocer, the milkman etc. and are baffled how they would pay off and are under perseverant strain. The government came up with a plan of Rs 12000/- which seems a trivial amount in the prevalent inflationary pressures besides the ordeal of unemployment. This is just an isolated instance, which represents the entire impoverished community living in the shantytowns and shadow cities located in the suburbs of Karachi.
The last Thursday decision of the federal government of Pakistan to open up various sectors of economy in various phases and to ease the lockdown has not been ample to allay the fear of millions of families, which still dread the deadly virus. The abysmal economic growth has left the government with nothing but to take the decision to help millions who might be beseeching their bosses to resume the work so that they may get monthly wherewithal. The global output is projected to contract by 3% in 2020 and Pakistan’s economy would contract by around 2% at the expense of the entire population of 210 million who are already undergoing the ordeal inflicted by the novel virus.
The nation could see the light at the end of the tunnel since certain sectors of the economy would be instrumental in terms of employment generation. Construction, textile, information technology and agriculture would be able to compensate somewhat losses incurred by the rest of the sectors, however, it would be a hugely gigantic task for the government to strike the balance in revenue and the expenditures. The prime objective of the government during the fear of the pandemic must be to ensure the economic growth and the containment of the pandemic simultaneously.
Over 33 million people have filed for unemployment so far in the USA, world’s largest economy, and there is every likelihood that the figure might touch 50 million. The unemployment rate of the United Kingdom during this year is expected to peak at 10% which is unprecedented. A large number of self-employed workers and small business owners have undergone monumental losses in the wake of the lockdown in France. Assessing the emergent situation and to ensure that these individuals stay afloat, the French government has come up with euro 110 billion emergency plan. The unemployment jolt may be experienced by over two million people in Germany during 2020. By virtue of prolonged coronavirus lockdown, there are over 120 million jobless individuals in India. Pakistan is no exception since coronavirus might render around 25 million jobless in Pakistan. These unemployment number would be the foremost reason for the malaise coupled with abject poverty globally which must be tackled sooner rather than later with rational decisions.
The primary concern at this juncture in Pakistan is how to ensure that the individuals with unstable jobs are able to push through the prevalent ordeal. There is a likelihood that the situation might turn around in a couple of months, however, it would be too little too late for those who have nothing at present to keep body and soul together. The emergent measures at the expense of the risk of the infections might or might not prove worthy. Let’s wait and see how the poor segment of the society copes with this Armageddon. Eventually, God is the ultimate sustenance for everyone.