KARACHI: Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Saturday urged trade and industry to follow SOPs related to coronavirus in order to avert complete halt of industrial and economic activities.
FPCCI’s ruling group BMP Chairman Mian Anjum Nisar has asked the traders to strictly follow the government’s SOPs in markets for curbing the spread of deadly coronavirus and averting halt of the industrial wheel.
Moreover, there is also need to speed up vaccination process, especially for the industry workers in the country, for the smooth operation of trade and industry, he added.
“The businessmen themselves have to ensure a strict implementation of the standard operating procedures in markets and commercial areas in order to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic,” he said and warned that the third wave of coronavirus had spread to dangerous levels and the situation demanded that the business community play a role in strict compliance with the SOPs in business areas to control further Covid-19 infections.
Mian Anjum Nisar stressed that a reduction in coronavirus cases would help the government to consider easing restrictions on businesses, as it would cause great losses to trade activities, render thousands of daily-wage workers and other workers jobless, making the lives more miserable, fuel a further increase in inflation besides badly impacting the economy.
He said that during the third wave of coronavirus the situation has been deteriorating mainly due to lack of implementation of COVID-19 standard operating procedures and the solution lies in speeding up our vaccination programs, instead of opting for closure of trade and industry amidst GDP growth of just 1.5 percent. He said that in view of combating the coronavirus situation the government can impose smart lockdown where required, as complete lockdown would halt industry.
The FPCCI former president pointed out that due to the previous lockdowns, Pakistan’s economy had suffered a loss of billions of dollars while millions of workers lost their jobs. Pakistan’s economy suffered negative growth last fiscal year for the first time in the history due to Covid-19, he said, adding that the best way to save the economy and businesses from more losses is to follow the SOPs.
He observed that the complete lockdowns had created havoc globally, as the countries, which were providing loans had also came under debts while Pakistan is already facing financial crunch due to huge burden of debts. So, complete lockdown is not a good option, he added.
He observed that the government will have to make visible reduction in taxes in the budget to help revive the businesses, which are near to bankruptcies owing to slowdown amidst coronavirus.
He asked the government to take concrete steps to attract foreign investment, saving the livelihood of millions of workers associated with various sectors, as foreign investment in Pakistan’s long-term projects like power plants and oil and gas exploration.
The BMP Chairman said that with a view to save the economy from the impacts of the slowdown due to the COVID-19 the government should announce special incentives for a cash-strapped SMEs, which represents more than 90 percent of around 3.2 million business enterprises in Pakistan, contributing 40 percent to the GDP, employing more than 80 percent of non-agricultural workforce, and generating 25 percent of export earnings.
He expressed dissatisfaction over the financial packages by the government for the businesses to deal with the financial crunch, called for a significant cut in import duties and waiver of sales tax, income tax and additional income taxes, for the smooth running of trade and industry.
He asked the government to expedite the process of vaccination and supply ample quantity of doses not only to the whole public but also to the trade and industry.
Mian Anjum Nisar said that rising mortality in the midst of the third Covid-19 wave and growing anxiety in the business circles over possible restrictions on international travel and trade necessitate ramping up the pace of vaccination.
To speed up inoculations, the government will need to bridge vaccine supply gaps with active participation from the federating units and the private sector, he added.