Coronavirus situation
PM forms panel for protection of media industry, workers
Incentives for construction sector announced

Statesman Report
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday constituted a five-member committee regarding measures for the protection of media industry and media workers in the wake of situation arising out of the coronavirus.
The committee was formed after a letter sent by the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) to the prime minister, a statement issued by the PM Media Office here said.
The committee would comprise Minister for National Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood, Special Assistant to the PM on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant to the PM Shehzad Akbar, Secretary Information, and Dr Shahbaz Gill.
The Pakistan Broadcasters Association, with the aim of saving the media industry from the possible crisis and protecting the media workers in the wake of situation arising out of the coronavirus, directly requested the prime minister and sought the government’s support in that regard.
The committee has been given the task of reviewing the PBA's recommendations and addressing the problems.
The prime minister said the media had a vital role in tackling the challenge of coronavirus facing the country.
He said along with other relevant people, journalists and media workers were also playing the role of a front-line force in the war against coronavirus.
The prime minister said all possible efforts would be made to protect the media workers and minimize the difficulties of media industry.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday elevated the status of the construction sector to that of an industry while announcing incentives for investors and businessmen as the government tries to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
While speaking to journalists, the premier said that a board will also be formed to address all issues and matters related to the industry. He added that all industries that are connected to construction will continue to function even during the lockdown. He said that the reason he was paying attention to the construction sector was that it generated jobs for daily wage workers, many of whom have lost their income due to the ongoing lockdown.
The main incentives announced by the premier include:
All the people investing in the construction sector this year will not be questioned about their source of income.
The tax rate will be fixed for the construction sector, and constructors will be charged tax per square foot or square yard.
People carrying out construction in the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme for the poor will only have to pay 10 per cent of the fixed tax.
Withholding tax will be waived off for all construction sectors except the formal sectors of steel and cement.
Sales tax will be reduced in coordination with provinces.
Any family selling their house will not have to pay any capital gains tax.
A subsidy of Rs30 billion to be given for the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme.
Construction sector to be given the status of an industry.
Construction Industry Development Board to be set up to support the sector.
The prime minister said that the government aimed to "find a balance" between continuing a lockdown and avoiding unemployment.
He said that the Western countries were facing the coronavirus on one hand and economic fallout on the other. But "in Pakistan, we have corona on one hand and poverty on the other," he told reporters and added: "You cannot lock up 220 million people."
The premier expressed concerns that if the lockdown continued for a long time, people would become "desperate and come out on the streets. Not only would that lead to a spike in infection rate but also worsen the economic situation."
"We have a challenge on our hands," he said while responding to a question. "There is corona on one side and hunger on the other. How can we tell a person who is hungry to stay inside?"
PM Imran said that Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has also raised similar concerns regarding a lockdown. He further said that the two-month-long lockdown had worked in Wuhan — believed to be the epicentre of Covid-19 — because the Chinese government delivered food to people in their homes.

He also shone a light on the government's efforts to provide relief to those who have been affected by the lockdown, saying that thousands of people — who are not already covered by Ehsaas Kafalat programme — had already sent SMS to designated numbers.