Chaired by the Additional Chief Secretary, Shakil Qadir Khan, an emergency meeting of the Provincial Economic Task Force was convened here at the Planning and Development Department on Thursday. The single point agenda of the meeting focused on assigning roles and proposing measures for the availability of essential food commodities in case the spread of second wave of COVID-19 spiralled in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. All the Deputy Commissioners and District Food Controllers in the province would be notified of the decision for their implementation.
It was decided at the meeting that the Food Department would be closely monitoring and reporting the demand and supply gap of essential food items in all the districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Additional Chief Secretary also directed the officials of Food, Industries and Agriculture departments to ensure there was sufficient availability of reserves and to keep an eye on the food situation, including perishable food items like vegetables and fruits. These proactive steps would balance the cumulative demand and supply of food items and keep the prices in check, it was said during the meeting.
District Food Controllers have been assigned the tasks of collecting and updating the data of available stocks in their respective districts on daily basis. Each district’s stock position will be uploaded and shared through the online data portal managed by the Performance Management and Reforms Unit. Rising COVID-19 trends in the province have once again called for priority actions by the government to pre-empt the economic impact. Although COVID-19 is primarily a health matter, the crisis may spread out from emergency healthcare to food security, if not administered properly.
During the Provincial Task Force meeting, the Additional Chief Secretary also instructed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bureau of Statistics to complete the second phase of the survey on job and income losses by December 2020. This data will help the government to understand the lasting economic and employment impact of COVID-19 in the province. Secretary Local Government, Secretary Planning and Development, Director Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bureau of Statistics along with the representatives of Industries Department, Food Department and Performance Management Reforms Unit were also present at the meeting. The Additional Chief Secretary also stressed the challenge of data accuracy in emergencies, to be carefully addressed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bureau of Statistics.
In March 2020, the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa notified the Provincial Task Force with the mandate to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 and propose measures to safeguard the state of economy and employment in the province. At the height of pandemic, the Provincial Task Force prepared the short-term coping strategy and the medium-term economic recovery plan (Azm-e-Nau) which helped timely decision-making in warding off the crisis. The Task Force also provided data-backed and evidence-based policy briefs on COVID-19 related solutions and initiatives to the senior leadership of the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.