Friday September 17, 2021

Businesses balk at tough virus curbs in Karachi

FPCCI chief says restaurants should be allowed to continue 24 hours takeaway and delivery services
The logo of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).
The logo of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI). 

KARACHI: Business community on Friday voiced strong regrets over the provincial government’s decision to reimpose nine days lockdown on economic activities, advising it to forcefully vaccinate public to curb fourth coronavirus wave in the province.

Officials of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) and Karachi Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said it was impossible to pay salaries to workers if the government decided to close down industries and businesses.

"Pakistan's economic hub Karachi should not be completely locked down in the larger national interest," Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo, president FPCCI said in a statement.

"The only solution out of the current situation, without causing any harm to businesses and employment opportunities, is to allow business and economic activities under strict compliance of SOPs and mandatory vaccination of the workforce."

Maggo said restaurants should be allowed to continue 24 hours takeaway and delivery services while all grocery stores in the province should also be allowed to operate seven days a week till 8pm to facilitate the public. "If industries and businesses remain under restrictions, we will not be able to pay salaries," he added.

FPCCI hopes that its concerted appeal to the Sindh government will result in reconsideration of the strict decisions taken and will result in a more compliant environment in the province vis-à-vis COVID control and, yet protect the economic and employment opportunities through taking all stakeholders onboard.

Zubair Motiwala, chairman Businessmen Group at KCCI said businesses strongly opposed the lockdown strategy to deal with the pandemic, as the only workable solution for minimising the number of Covid cases is to forcefully get the people vaccinated and ensure strict implementation of SOPs. Motiwala stressed that the government should carry out an aggressive vaccination campaign and take assistance from the law enforcement agencies if needed to compel the masses to get vaccinated at the earliest.

Motiwala, who attended the provincial coronavirus taskforce meeting at CM House on Friday, said the provincial government has agreed that the delivery service of restaurants should continue, while export-oriented industries and all their allied industries should also continue to operate.

"Small traders and shopkeepers have been facing a lot of problems due to lockdowns and limited business hours, and many businesses are on the verge of total collapse," he said.

"Hence, the government should try its best to minimise the grievances of shopkeepers and the public."

BMG chairman said perhaps, it is time the government should think about extending monetary help to citizens, especially small shopkeepers, who are now in net debt position, and are paying rents to owners of their business premises.