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April 19, 2021

Traders call for increase in business hours

Lahore

April 19, 2021

LAHORE:Business community has demanded the government reconsider the decision of closing businesses by 6pm and no business activities on Saturday and Sunday as it has been adversely affecting the domestic trade and commerce.

Historically, Ramazan is always a peak season for domestic trade but for the second consecutive year it is being affected due to COVID-19 related lockdown restrictions.

The National Command Operations Centre (NCOC) decided to close normal businesses by 6pm during Ramazan. However, the business community was unsatisfied with the decision and demanded the government reconsider this decision to save businesses from further losses.

Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Mian Tariq Misbah on Sunday stated that the business volume increased in Ramazan due to Eid related activities and shopping, but shortening the timings adversely affected business activities. The reduced operational hours for businesses would increase the frequency of customers in the markets which would lead to further spread of COVID-19.

The LCCI President asked the government to revisit the decision and allow businesses to remain open until 10 to 12pm in Ramazan. The government should take business community on board before making any such decision that has a direct impact on the businesses and economy of the country. Without a financial relief package in place or any form of reprieve from FBR, several businesses are going to declare bankruptcy rendering thousands of people jobless.

Globally the businesses are operating normally in the wake of third wave of corona virus with SOPs at normal timings. He said that reducing hours for business activities for a country like Pakistan would be harmful for economy. He said that the previous lockdowns had already taken a heavy toll on the business community pushing many businesses to the verge of closure while thousands of workers were rendered jobless. He demanded the government take measures to ensure strict implementation of SOPs in markets and allow all businesses to operate at normal timings to save them from further losses. It would help in controlling unemployment and saving the economy from further contraction.

He argued that hundreds and thousands of passengers are travelling in airlines within a closed environment where meals are also being served. All markets, malls, restaurants, cinemas and family festivals are open in UAE, markets are also operating under normal timings in the UK, so why Pakistan is creating difficulties for businesses.

He called on the business community to fully support the government in controlling the third wave of virus by ensuring strict implementation of SOPs. He said that masks should be made mandatory for those working in shops and no customer should be allowed to enter the business premises without a mask. He said that measures should be taken to avoid over-crowding at business premises, hand sanitizers should be kept ready at business places and social distancing should be maintained. He was of the view that only by implementing the SOPs the COVID-19 pandemic can be controlled and businesses can be run at normal timings.