QUETTA: The Balochistan government has decided to give interest-free loans to people to compensate them for the losses suffered due to lockdown triggered by the coronavirus.
The provincial cabinet had approved the scheme and in some districts it had already been started, Finance Secretary Noorul Haq Baloch said in a statement on Sunday.
“Around 30,000 youths, who were facing unemployment in the province, will immediately benefit from the interest-free loan scheme,” he said.
Baloch said a programme was also under consideration on the directive of Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani for distribution of cash among 119,000 deserving families through the Zakat fund of Rs2 billion.
“As many as 32,000 families will get cash very soon,” he added.
He said that another fund would also be allocated for providing health facilities to the poor.
The finance secretary said the provincial government had taken many measures to deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy.
“Coronavirus has put the global economy under pressure and Balochistan will surely face its implications. Steps to meet the challenge will be taken on the directive of the chief minister,” he added. He said Balochistan has an informal economy and the formal economy is mostly from services sector. The agriculture sector accounts for 30 per cent of the GDP and it provides 40pc of employment.
“The mines and mineral sector, which is a major contributor to the provincial economy, will also be affected by the virus outbreak. The Balochistan government will counter it through immediate, medium-term and long-term strategies,” he added. The closure of borders with Iran and Afghanistan has affected businesses and many workers in Balochistan have lost their jobs.
He said the cabinet had decided to distribute ration worth Rs760 million among the needy.
Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2020