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April 9, 2020

Industrialists demand state to show sanity, fulfill promise of SOPs

Business

April 9, 2020

KARACHI: Industrialists on Wednesday berated seizure of factories and arrests by the government under the pretext of lockdown violation, terming the move preposterous as more than half of exports are already at risk due to production halt.

The industrialists said exporters have lost nearly 70 percent of export orders due to lockdown, and the industry needs government support instead of harassment and arrest of businessmen.

“Exporters are losing orders, nearly 70 percent export orders have been cancelled due to global environment and for completing remaining 30 percent we need to function smoothly,” Anjum Nisar, president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) said.

“But under such circumstances where industry has to be closed, no laying off of labours, no facility for shipments, cash flow constraints, banking and market obligations, how all these requirements could be met out when the authorities and agencies are creating such problems of harassment and arrest/detention of industrialists.”

Nisar said the government should follow policies that are favourable to industry at a time of global crises where most of the countries are losing trade and facing drastic decline in exports.

Pakistan has been observing a partial lockdown for more than two weeks. Sindh government kept the lockdown stricter from the beginning despite the federal government’s insistence

to make it soft for port and trade activities.

Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, while expressing concerns over the arrest/detention of owner a textile mill, said it was not a wise move to arrest anyone or raid industries.

“Any violation of government’s order should be brought to KCCI’s and relevant industrial zone association’s notice so that the same could be amicably resolved through negotiation,” Ahmed said. “The industrialists are already going through a very difficult situation and finding it really hard to stay afloat.”

Ahmed said the government should refrain from exacerbating their problems and finalise the standard operating procedures at the earliest so that the industries could accordingly adopt precautionary measures at their units to prevent the spread of coronavirus and at the same time ensure uninterrupted production activities.

Referring to Sindh’s chief minister’s recent meeting with representatives of the business and industrial community on April 4, KCCI president said the provincial government formed a committee which was tasked to outline the standard of procedures (SoPs) for industries. “What happened to the committee as the business and industrial community has not received any response or SOPs so far.”

Ahmed said export-oriented industries have residential colonies for labour force and provide private transportation facility while their workforce is capable of reaching factories on motorcycles or bicycles. They should be allowed to operate on a condition that they would ensure compliance of precautionary measures, including social distancing, use of masks, gloves and sanitisers to disinfect the coronavirus.

“Sindh government would take serious notice of the situation and order the committee to notify SOPs to industries at the earliest while the labour department should only be authorised to vigilantly supervise all the industrial activities,” he added. “The government will have to act really fast in this regard with a view to save the industries as prolonged closure of the industrial units is going to be really detrimental and disastrous for the entire economy.”