Pakistan’s ‘smart lockdown policy’ can benefit small businesses elsewhere, Raza Bashir Tarar tells webinar in Ottawa


29th October 2020

Pakistan government achieved considerable success despite initial criticism in keeping small businesses afloat at the peak of Covid-19 pandemic by adopting a policy of smart lockdowns and letting the small businesses operate by following SOPs in all major cities.

*This was stated by High Commissioner for Pakistan to Canada Mr. Raza Bashir Tarar while attending a webinar arranged by Canada Pakistan Affiliated Chamber of Trade (CPACT) on the subject of “How the Pandemic is Impacting Small Businesses in Ottawa”*. Ottawa City Councillor Mr. Eli El-Chantiry, local small business activist Michael Wood, CPACT Chairperson Uzma Khan and a number of local Pakistani and other businessmen also attended the webinar.

Raza Bashir Tarar told the participants that keeping small businesses closed for extended periods could be very tough and actually lead to business closures if prompt measures to extend stimulus packages such as partial payment of staff salaries, grant of subsidized loans, deferment of existing loans and subsidy in utilities were not quickly taken.He urged the Canada Pakistan Affiliated Chamber of Trade (CPACT) and other Pakistani business platforms in Canada to compile the business data profiles of Pakistanis’ owned small businesses out of the 6200 small business units operating Ottawa. “The availability of data and information would help promote community relations and lead to joint strategies to cope with the pandemic as long as a credible vaccine was not developed to stem the growth and resurgence of virus,” he said.The High Commissioner advised the small Pakistani businesses in Ottawa and other cities of Canada to adopt innovative marketing and service delivery techniques by using the tools of social media to keep their businesses running. He urged the Pakistani community to keep track of what household products and grains, particularly those imported from Pakistan, could be purchased from the stores owned by the Pakistanis.He said food exports from Pakistan to Canada currently stood at US$ 12 million per annum but the volume of Pakistani food imports could be increased manifold by the support and patronage of the Pakistani community in Canada as the Pakistani food products, particularly its rice which had proven to be free of any traces of pesticides, were higher in quality, taste and aroma and could easily capture a good market share in short time.