The Karachi Tajir Action Committee has termed the enforcement of a lockdown in the province an “anti-economy decision”, which was taken without consulting them.
The Timber market association announced at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Saturday that they would start laying off all their monthly salaried staff from Monday.
The committee said that if he cases of Covid-19 were increasing in Karachi, the city must be declared calamity-hit immediately. They demanded relaxation in all sorts of utility bills and taxes, including that of power and gas bills.
The traders also demanded interest-free loans for the disbursement of salaries to their staffers.
The Tajir Action Committee members and other traders in the city took the provincial government to task and castigated its decision of locking down the province.
The president of the committee, Muhammad Rizwan, complained how the Sindh government without consulting them had imposed the lockdown in the city. An impression was being given that the traders were consulted, but they were never contacted, he said, adding that the decision to impose the lockdown was tantamount to animosity against Karachi.
The traders said that the provincial and federal governments should relax all forms of taxes and bills in the city and declare it calamity-hit. Even last year, Rizwan said, the provincial government announced that the traders would be exempted from all taxes, but later they were forced to pay even more taxes. “Not a single tax was waived off,” he said, requesting the chief justice to take suo motu action on the issue.
He asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to intervene and make sure that businesses reopened in the city immediately. He also requested the provincial government to allow them to reopen their businesses by Monday.
The traders said that if the duration of the lockdown was extended beyond August 8, they would not accept it at any cost. “It seems like the Covid-19 only spreads because of traders,” he said, adding that the Pakistan Medical Association’s Qaiser Sajjad had pointed out that the testing capacity of the city needed to be increased as only symptomatic tests were being conducted which automatically increased the positivity ratio.
Rizwan pointed out that all political parties during election campaigns in Gigit-Baltistan and Kashmir held big rallies and then came back to the city and became cause of the spread of the virus. He said that they could have boycotted the virus.
He said the government can lock them down for 20 days, “but then give us some sort of relaxation”. More than 15 per cent of the traders in the city, one of the traders shared, had gone bankrupt and over 50 had committed suicide. On behalf of the Timber Marker, he said that they had decided to lay off all their monthly salaried staff from Monday. “Earlier we laid off 50 per cent of our staff and now we will be laying 25 per cent more, because we don’t have the capacity to pay them,” he said, adding that they were forced to pay taxes and those who didn’t were served with notices.
He said that they were under a lot of pressure, and if their traders asked them to take to the streets, they would have to. Another trader said that the current government was a guest of two years now, and after two years “we will see”.
Another trader demanded completion of the vaccination process in eight days so that the spread of the coronavirus was immediately contained.
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