LAHORE: Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) along with the other chambers of commerce across Pakistan has demanded the government to reconsider the decision of closing businesses by 6 pm and no business activities on Saturday and Sunday.
Mian Tariq Misbah, President, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the National Command Operations Center (NCOC) decided to close normal businesses by 6:00 pm during the month of Ramadan, but the business community was not satisfied with the decision and urged that the government should reconsider this decision to save businesses from further losses. He said Ramadan was the month that increased the volume of business due to Eid, but shortening the timings for businesses would have an adverse affect on business activities.
He said that reduced operational hours for businesses would increase the frequency of customers in the markets which would lead to further spread of Covid-19. He emphasized that the government should give a second thought to this decision and allow businesses to remain open until 10 – 12 pm in Ramadan. He further said that before taking any decision that has a direct impact on the business class, the chambers of commerce and business representative bodies should be taken into full confidence and the practice of taking unilateral decisions should be avoided at all cost as such decisions always lead to detrimental consequences for business and economy. 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.
Mian Tariq Misbah said that the third wave of coronavirus was all over the world but in nearly all countries, the businesses were operating with SOPs at normal timings. He said that reducing hours for business activities for a country like Pakistan would certainly be very harmful for the 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. Therefore, instead of reducing the timings for businesses, the government should 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. President, LCCI argues 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 U.A.E. Malls and markets are also operating under normal timings in the UK, therefore why Pakistan is creating difficulties for businesses.
The LCCI President also called on the business community to fully support the government in controlling the third wave of coronavirus 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.