ISLAMABAD, Jun 13 (APP):Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh Saturday said the coronavirus pandemic was not an excuse as it had brought difficult times for the country by virtually inflicting a loss of around Rs 3,000 billion to the national economy.

Exact loss to the economy could not be estimated as it could not be predicted how long the pandemic would continue and what would be its intensity, the advisor said while addressing here the post-budget press conference.

Hafeez Shaikh said the COVID-19 pandemic had hit the economy hard causing Rs 3,000 billion loss, with considerable reduction in the revenue collection against the actual target.

He said the government had revised the tax collection target to Rs 4,700, however, it would hardly collect Rs 3,900 billion by the end of ongoing fiscal year, which meant that there would be a loss of over Rs 700 billion on that account.

He said Pakistan was not the only country that was hit by the coronavirus, rather it had engulfed the whole world affecting the health and economic sectors.

The advisor said the industry, markets, transport and other business institutions, that keep the economic cycle running, had been closed, causing another problem of unemployment.

Despite financial constraints, he said, the government tried its best to help the people in the trying times and announced a Stimilus Package of Rs 1,200 billion, besides procuring wheat of Rs 280 billion to provide liquidity to the farmers.

The advisor said the economic stability was witnessed during the first 9 months of current financial year, but the situation worsened in the post-COVID period when the pandemic badly inflicted losses to the economy.

He said the most important responsibility for the government in the next fiscal year would be to fulfill its international commitments and pay back loans of Rs 2,900 billion. The loans of about Rs 5,000 had already been paid during the last year, he added.

He said the loan amount paid back was sufficient to launch more than 20 programmes like Ehsaas to help the poor.

Hafeez Shaikh said the government was tying its best to reduce expenditures and it had to take take tough decisions to achieve the objective.