ISLAMABAD: COVID-19 (coronavirus) is an unprecedented disaster of recent time. Governments all around the world are all kinds of choices and coverage instruments to fulfill this problem.
Pakistan’s authorities has lately taken many affordable steps, together with adjustment of fiscal and financial insurance policies to fight this. Nonetheless, contemplating the magnitude of the issue, much more will have to be carried out.
This text factors out another areas the place coverage selections are urgently wanted.
First, trying on the commerce insurance policies, the federal government has exempted medical and different well being care tools from import taxes initially for a interval of three months. It’s not doubtless that inside this brief interval, the targets will probably be met, contemplating that there’s an acute scarcity of those items and plenty of nations have imposed export bans.
Importers face extreme constraints whereas getting into into any buy contracts. In case there may be any delay, punitive tariffs and different import taxes will probably be relevant when the products arrive.
There are only a few nations which might be often taxing life-saving medical devices. Most nations are members of the World Commerce Organisation (WTO) Settlement on Info Expertise, which was up to date in 2015 to incorporate superior medical tools.
Beneath the settlement, the member nations enable duty-free imports. Pakistan ought to contemplate changing into a part of this international alliance. Nonetheless, if it isn’t potential instantly, it mustn’t restrict the exemption from taxes on life-saving items to solely three months.
Within the context of COVID-19, essentially the most pressing drawback is the dearth of ventilators, that are presently the one choice to avoid wasting lives.
As a consequence of excessive value and unavailability at current, teams of native volunteers together with engineers, medical doctors and biomedical professionals are working around the clock to make inexpensive ventilators and associated equipment.
They might take cue from the efforts of an Irish group that has lately developed a 3D-printed mechanically operated ventilator prototype. It’s an open-source ventilator implying that anybody could make use of this mannequin to make their very own.
Pakistani entrepreneurs could discover themselves deprived by the truth that presently the import of 3D printers shouldn’t be allowed in Pakistan. 3D printers are being utilized in numerous nations to fulfill excessive demand for reusable plastic facemasks and protecting gears for well being staff.
These printers construct nearly something, together with physique components, physiotherapy items and hospitals.
Even earlier than the present disaster, they have been spearheading the digital industrial revolution. Sustaining a ban on their import doesn’t make any sense. We want them urgently to provide mass-customised well being care and different merchandise.
Import of pesticides
One other associated and foremost concern is final week’s federal cupboard determination to reject a proposal from the Ministry of Commerce to permit the import of pesticides from India even on a one-time foundation to regulate the approaching menace of the unfold of dengue fever.
Punjab authorities’s well being care division made the proposal. There isn’t a realisation that simply final yr there have been about 45,000 confirmed instances of dengue fever, together with 75 deaths within the nation.
If dengue spreads as broadly because it did final yr, the casualties may very well be much more than anticipated from the coronavirus.
For the reason that mosquito that causes dengue fever begins laying eggs in early summer time, there may be little or no time for taking preventive measures. It’s laborious to think about the doomsday state of affairs ensuing from the mixed havoc from dengue and coronavirus.
Contemplating the social, financial and political implications of COVID-19, all nationwide stakeholders should adequately be represented within the decision-making course of. What we’re nonetheless lacking is a cross-functional COVID-19 response group representing all of the three sectors.
There may be additionally a necessity for frequent digital conferences of the Council of Frequent Pursuits (CCI) to keep away from any misunderstanding and guarantee a coordinated effort.
In case important provides from one a part of the nation fail to achieve one other, it may give rise to extreme regulation and order scenario.
As on the nationwide degree, cooperation is proving to be a problem on the worldwide degree. Over 50 nations (together with Pakistan) have utilized new commerce restrictions on medical provides, and the pattern is constant.
However there are some shiny spots as nicely. China is among the few nations, which having overcome its adversity is now extending materials and technical help to many different nations together with Pakistan.
Many nations are additionally forming regional boards and funds to struggle the disaster. South Asian nations have arrange the Saarc Corona Emergency Fund. India has made an preliminary contribution of $10 million whereas all different nations have additionally made their contributions starting from $5 million from Sri Lanka to $1 million by Afghanistan and $100,000 by Bhutan.
Pakistan is the one nation, which is to this point staying other than this regional initiative. The nation’s policymakers should realise the significance of cooperation, whether or not home or worldwide.
The author is the senior fellow at Pakistan Institute of Growth Economics and
ex-ambassador to WTO
Revealed in The Specific Tribune, March 30th, 2020.
Like Business on Facebook, observe @TribuneBiz on Twitter to remain knowledgeable and be part of within the dialog.