Are Lockdowns Absolutely Necessary to Contain the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Many countries have imposed strict lockdowns to control the spread of coronavirus.  Marko Kolanovic of JP Morgan claims that numbers had declined because the virus "likely has its own dynamics" that are "unrelated to and often inconsistent lockdown measures".  He cites as evidence a number of places whose infection rates, or "R" values, have continued to fall despite restrictions being lifted.

Coronavirus Transmission Rates Before & After Lockdown. Sou...

Are these absolutely necessary? What are its costs and benefits in terms of lives and livelihoods, particularly in developing countries like Pakistan with young populations?  Over 40% of all coronavirus deaths in Europe and America have occurred among the elderly living in nursing homes. Pakistanis age 60+ account for 19% of cases but 58% of deaths. Like US and Europe, older people are much more likely to die from coronavirus in Pakistan.  But average life expectancy in Pakistan is just 67 years and the median age in the country is only 22 years. The explanations offered for low death rates in South Asia include younger populations, more sunshinehigher temperature and humidity, universal BCG vaccinations etc. Yale researchers have argued in a recently published paper to consider universal mask adoption and increased hygiene measures as an alternative to complete lockdown.

Coronavirus Infections and Death Demographics. Source: Pakistan Hea...

Are there other tools such as compulsory face masks which can preserve both lives and livelihoods? In a recently published paper tiled "The Benefits and Costs of Social Distancing in Rich and PoorCountr..., Yale researchers support universal mask adoption and increased hygiene measures as a alternatives to social distancing and complete lockdown.

What will be the impact of coronavirus lockdown on global economy?  European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borell has said "Analysts have long talked about the end of an American-led system and the arrival of an Asian century. This is now happening in front of our eyes," he said. "If the 21st century turns out to be an Asian century, as the 20th was an American one, the pandemic may well be remembered as the turning point of this process."

Does it impinge on civil liberties of the people? Could such lockdowns cause various physical and mental illnesses leading to deaths and high rates of suicides?

Despardes with Faraz Darvesh host discusses these questions with Ali Hasan Cemendtaur, Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq.

https://youtu.be/3HtPH8cnEPM

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Comment by Akhtar Hussain on May 29, 2020 at 11:53pm

Riaz Sb.

Very informative as always.

Thank you.

~Akhtar.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 7, 2020 at 6:48pm

Noam Chomsky: #India’s #Lockdown Is #Genocidal . ‘People in the informal economy, which is a huge number of people, are just cast out. Go walk back to your village, which may be a thousand miles away. Die on the roadside’. #Modi #COVID19 – EMPIRE DIARIES

A master orator on his heyday, his voice is now so weak and scratchy that one has to strain to follow what he’s saying. Yet, the ol’ man’s brain still runs like a well-oiled machine. His arguments still slice through ours like a knife on butter.

Noam Chomsky, arguably the most celebrated thinker, philosopher and political dissenter of our times, recently aired his candid opinion on the goings-on in India and various other simmering issues during an hour-long video conversation with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! Slamming the Indian administration for mishandling the coronavirus lockdown, he went as far as calling it “genocidal”.

On that revealing show, Goodman asked Chomsky about his thoughts on what is required in an international response to stop the rise of authoritarianism in response to the #COVID19 pandemic.

Chomsky replied, “The current #lockdown is almost… you can almost describe it as genocidal. (Indian Prime Minister Narendra) Modi gave, I think, a four-hour warning before a total lockdown. That’s (affected) over a #billion people. Some of them have nowhere to go.”

Here are some excerpts from that programme in which Chomsky addresses issues in India:



‘DIE ON THE ROADSIDE’

‘People in the informal economy, which is a huge number of people, are just cast out. Go walk back to your village, which may be a thousand miles away. Die on the roadside. This is a huge #catastrophe in the making, right on top of the strong efforts to impose the ultra-right #Hindutva doctrines that are at the core of Modi’s thinking and background.’



‘DESTROYING INDIA’S SECULAR DEMOCRACY’

‘Since you (Goodman) mentioned India, Modi, who is a Hindu nationalist extremist, is systematically moving to destroy Indian secular #democracy and to crush the Muslim population. What’s happening in #Kashmir is horrifying. It was bad enough before, now it’s getting much worse. Same with the Muslim population; a huge population in #India.



‘INDIA WILL SOON BECOME UNLIVABLE’

‘India and in fact South Asia generally, is going to become unlivable pretty soon, if current #climate policies persist. Last summer, the temperature in Rajasthan went up to 50 degrees Celsius. And it’s increasing. There are millions of people in India who don’t have access to water. It’s going to get much worse, which could lead to a nuclear war between the two powers that basically rely on the same water resources, which are declining under #globalwarming: Pakistan and India. I mean, the horror story that’s developing is, again, indescribable. You can’t find words for it. And some people are cheering about it, like (US President) Donald Trump and his friend (Brazil President) Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil… a couple of other sociopaths.’

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 8, 2020 at 4:10pm

#WorldBank #Economic Forecast: #India's #GDP to contract by 3.2% and #Pakistan's GDP to decline 2.6% in fiscal year 2020/21 due to #COVID19 #lockdowns https://www.freepressjournal.in/business/indias-economy-to-contract...


India's economy will shrink by 3.2 per cent in the current fiscal, the World Bank said on Monday as it joined a chorus of international agencies that are forecasting a contraction in growth rate due to the coronavirus lockdown halting economic activity.

The Washington-based multilateral lender said that the COVID-19 pandemic and the multi-phased lockdown imposed to curb its spread has resulted in a devastating blow to the Indian economy.

In its latest edition of the Global Economic Prospect, the World Bank downgraded its projection of India by a massive negative nine per cent.

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Pakistan and Afghanistan are both projected to experience contractions in 2020. The mitigation measures imposed in these countries are expected to weigh heavily on private consumption, contributing to output contractions of -2.6 per cent and -5.5 per cent respectively, it said, adding that key labor-intensive export sectors like textiles are expected to contract sharply and subsequently recover slowly.

Bangladesh and Nepal are projected to experience substantial decelerations in fiscal year 2019/20. In Bangladesh, growth is expected to slow to 1.6 per cent, as the recovery in industrial production is reversed by COVID-19-related disruptions such as mitigation measures and global exports plunge, and as remittances fall.

https://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/global-economic-prospects

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 9, 2020 at 6:46pm

#WHO calls for new #lockdowns in #Pakistan to counter a surge in #coronavirus infections that has come as the country loosens restrictions. #COVID19 https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2020/jun/10/coronavirus-live...

WHO calls for new lockdowns in Pakistan
The World Health Organization has told Pakistan it should implement “intermittent” lockdowns to counter a surge in coronavirus infections that has come as the country loosens restrictions, an official said Tuesday.

Since the start of Pakistan’s outbreak in March, Prime Minister Imran Khan opposed a nationwide lockdown of the sort seen elsewhere, arguing the impoverished country could not afford it, AFP reports.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 13, 2020 at 7:26am

#Pakistan unveils Rs. 7.3 trillion ($44.17 billion) for fiscal 20-21. Rs. 1.3 trillion for #defense. No new taxes. Big jump in #socialsector spending in response to #COVID19. Ehsaas program gets Rs. 208 billion. Rs. 70 billion to contain #coronavirus. https://gulfnews.com/business/pakistan-unveils-44-billion-2020-21-n...

On Friday, Federal Minister for Industries and Production, Hammad Azhar, presented the budget of 7,294.9 billion PKR ($44 billion) for the upcoming fiscal year starting from July 2020 to June 2021 at the lower house of Parliament after approval by the cabinet, reports Xinhua news agency.

In his speech in Parliament, the Minister said that COVID-19 has seriously affected the developing economies like Pakistan, and the pandemic has affected not only health sector but also has social and economic implications.

Economic activity in the country slowed down due to lockdown imposed by the government to stop the spread of the virus, and the whole activity also had a negative impact on the GDP rate and investment, he said.

No new income tax
No new income tax has been imposed in the budget as the government wants to enhance the tax net to make more people pay taxes rather than levying more taxes on the taxpayers.

The new budget also focused on fiscal management, revenue mobilization, measures for economic stabilization and growth, reduction in non-development expenditures, boosting exports, job creation and people friendly policies for the socioeconomic prosperity of the country.

A total of 1.3 trillion PKR have been allocated for defence expenditures for the forthcoming financial year, Azhar said.

To contain COVID-19, the government allocated 70 billion PKR.

Special Ecnomic Zones
While for Special Economic Zones to be built under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the government has allocated 70 billion PKR whereas 26 billion more will be spent on other CPEC projects including a major railway project, Azhar said.

For science and technology, 20 billion PKR have been allocated whereas 5 billion more will go to educational reform.

The government also set inflation target for the forthcoming fiscal year at 6.5 per cent.

Furthermore, the government has decided to postpone repayment of any foreign debt till FY2022 to divert critical resources to crisis management.

After the presentation of the budget, debate on the proposed budget will be followed in the succeeding sessions of the house, after which it is likely to be approved from the lower house formally by the end of this month.

After approval from the lower house, the budget will be presented in the upper house.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 13, 2020 at 8:07am

Pakistan Budget Speech 2020-21

https://www.brecorder.com/news/1004078/budget-speech-2020-21

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Incentivizing Development REIT Scheme

To incentivize development and construction of residential building through REIT scheme, profit realized from sale of immoveable property is exempted from tax if sold with object of development and construction of residential buildings till 30th June 2020. It is proposed to be extended until 30th

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We have also provided historic construction sector incentives for economic revival and creation of jobs by introducing a concessionary taxation regime as under;
a) Fixed Tax Regime

b) No WHT on builders and developers (except steel & cement purchases)

c) Source of income shall not be asked

d) Capital Gains tax on one family house exempted

e) 90% tax waived for affordable housing

f) Status of an industry given

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Ehsas - Budget allocation for this flagship program has been increased from Rs 187 billion to Rs 208 billion, which includes various social safety initiatives including BISP, Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal and other departments. These allocations will be used as per the approved policy of the Government in transparent manner.

Subsidies - An amount of Rs 179 billion has been allocated to provide various subsidies in energy, food and other sectors. The Government has decided to re-orient and redirect subsidies to target the vulnerable segments only.

b) Higher Education- Higher education has been adequately funded and allocation for HEC has been increased from Rs 59 billion during 2019-20 to Rs 64 billion.

c) Housing Sector- The Government has promised to provide low cost housing units to the masses. In this regard, an amount of Rs 30 billion has been provided to Naya Pakistan Housing Authority for realization of this dream. Moreover, an amount of Rs 1.5 billion has been allocated for low cost housing through scheme of Qarz-e-Hasna of Akhuwat Foundation.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 13, 2020 at 8:08am

Pakistan Budget Speech 2020-21

https://www.brecorder.com/news/1004078/budget-speech-2020-21

Education

We have funded projects for improvement of education system through development of uniform curriculum, standard examination system, establishment of smart school and mainstreaming of madaris. An amount of Rs 5 billion has been allocated for these reforms. Moreover, higher education is one of the priority sector of the government to meet the challenges of 21st century quality education in the fields of research and other advanced areas like artificial technology, robotics and automation, space technology. An amount of Rs 30 billion has been allocated to achieve excellence in education.
Science & Information Technology

To train the manpower in the emerging technologies, knowledge economy initiatives etc it is imperative to enhance the capabilities of researchers and research institutes. Moreover, focus is on e-governance, IT enabled services and start ups and launching of 5G cellular services. For projects in these fields, allocation of Rs 20 billion has been made. Under Public Private Partnership, projects in the field of chemicals, electronics and Precision Agriculture will be implemented and the linkage between R&D and industry will be strengthened.
Climate Change

With the evolving global perspective on Climate Change, Pakistan is also adapting itself. Climate Change is responsible for the many shifting trends in Pakistan including off- season rains, shift in crop yields and heavy flooding. This year, the government is allocating Rs. 6 billion to Climate Change initiatives.
Special Areas

In addition to the allocations under current budget, the government has allocated development funds of Rs 40 billion for projects in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Moreover, an amount of Rs 48 billion is allocated for projects in merged district of KPK.
Sustainable Development Goals Programs

To achieve Sustainable Development Goals, an amount of Rs 24 billion has been allocated in the development budget.
Food & Agriculture

For food security and agriculture, an amount of Rs 12 billion has been allocated.
Other Development Programmes

In addition to the allocations under PSDP, special funds amounting to Rs 20 billion have been allocated for management of TDPs in merged districts of KPK. Whereas for rehabilitation of Afghanistan, an amount of Rs 2 billion has been allocated.
Taxation

Mr. Speaker,

Now I present Part II of the speech, which consists of tax proposals.

Today Pakistan's tax-to-GDP ratio stands at 11% which is the lowest among emerging countries. Regrettably this key indicator of fiscal strength has remained stagnant over the past 20 years. To improve this situation, we initiated a reform process, comprising of holistic strategy combining policy and administrative reforms to eliminate the distortions and boost quality revenue collection. The efforts have so far produced encouraging results with a promising future. Following key achievements have been made during the year:

The historical trend of Pakistan's import-led growth has been replaced with high domestic-led growth.

Unprecedented refunds have been issued which are 119% higher than last year

The narrow tax base has been expanded by bringing retailers into the tax net, and successful installation of Point of Sales (POS) system at 6,616 retail outlets with the aim to increase the number to 15,000 by December this year. Covid-19 has affected the business of common man, it is proposed to decrease sales tax rate from 14% to 12% for business registered with POS. This will give relief to common man and to business also. The measure will help in documentation of economy.

Hotel and restaurant industry has been badly affected due to Covid-19. It is proposed that minimum tax for the industry may be reduced from 1.5% to 0.5% for six months (April to September 2020)

A tax return mobile app has been launched to facilitate individuals and salaried persons, which led to an increase of 37% in the number of income tax return filers.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 13, 2020 at 9:36am

#Pakistan #Budget 20/21: Gross revenue receipts estimated at Rs 6.5 trillion of which provincial share is Rs 2.9 trillion. Public Sector #Development budget is Rs 1.3 billion, of which Rs 676 billion is allocated to provinces. #Defense gets Rs 1.3 trillion https://nation.com.pk/12-Jun-2020/salient-features-of-federal-budge...

The budget 2020-21 has the following salient features:

–Total outlay of budget 2020-21 is Rs 7,294.9 billion. This size is 11 percent lower than the size of budget estimates 2019-20.

–The resource availability during 2020-21 has been estimated at Rs 6,314.9 billion against Rs 4,917.2 billion in the budget estimates of 2019-20.

–The net revenue receipts for 2020-21 have been estimated at Rs 3,699.5 billion indicating an increase of 6.7 percent over the budget estimates of 2019-20.

–The provincial share in federal taxes is estimated at Rs 2,873.7 billion during

2020-21, which is 11.7 percent lower than the budget estimates for 2019-20.

–The net capital receipts for 2020-21 have been estimated at Rs 1,463.2 billion against the budget estimates of Rs 831.7 billion in 2019-20 reflecting an increase of 75.93 percent.

–The external receipts in 2020-21 are estimated at Rs 2,222.9 billion. This shows a decrease of 26.7 percent over the budget estimates for 2019-20.

–The overall expenditure during 2020-21 has been estimated at Rs 7,294.9 billion, out of which the current expenditure is Rs 6,345 billion.

–The development expenditure outside PSDP has been estimated at Rs 70 billion in the budget 2020-21.

–The size of Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for 2020-21 is Rs 1,324 billion. Out of this, Rs 676 billion has been allocated to provinces.
–Federal PSDP has been estimated at Rs 650 billion, out of which Rs 418.7 billion for Federal Ministries/Divisions, Rs 100.4 billion for Corporations, Rs 3 billion for Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA), Rs 7 billion for COVID responsive and other natural calamities programme.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 13, 2020 at 10:13pm

2.229m people to die in Pakistan if lockdown not imposed?

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/672563-2-229m-people-to-die-in-pak...

The Imperial College London's algorithm creates the picture that Pakistan will reach the peak on August 10, 2020 on which day around 80,000 deaths will occur.

The research is sponsored by the UK government which shows the projected deaths from coronavirus in case of lockdown or otherwise in different countries, except the US and the UK. The website says about Pakistan that if it imposes 32 percent lockdown from February 27 to July 11, i.e. for 135 days, then August 04 will be the peak day with 13,570,000 people will be affected. The worst day for Pakistan concerning corona deaths is expected at August 10 and deaths are projected to reach 78,515 after which deaths will start witnessing decrease.

The website says January 2021 will witness end to corona in Pakistan and on January 26, 2021, total death toll in Pakistan from corona would be 2,132,617. It said if the lockdown was not imposed then 2,229,000 deaths will occur in Pakistan by January 26, 2021. If complete lockdown was imposed in Pakistan immediately, then death toll may be restricted to about 10,200 by end period.

In India, total deaths by Jan 25, 2021, would be 14,244,379 without intervention, while with intervention it would be 13,649,520

In Afghanistan, total deaths by Feb 19, 2021 would be 313,531 without intervention. While with intervention the figure would be 305,350.

In Brazil, total deaths by Jan 24, 2021 without intervention would be 2,926,348 and with intervention to be 1,519,453. The figures given by the Imperial College are just a simulation, and not a predication.

Comment by Akhtar Hussain on June 14, 2020 at 8:36am

Riaz Sb. 

I read an interesting article, thought you would enjoy it as well.

https://warontherocks.com/2020/06/the-chip-wars-of-the-21st-century/

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