ISLAMABAD, APR 25 (DNA) – The Friends of Economic and Business Reforms (FEBR) President Kashif Anwar Sunday said that in view of combating the coronavirus situation the government can impose smart lockdown where required, as complete lockdown would halt industry, leading to loss of millions of jobs and unemployment.

Kashif Anwar said that Pakistan cannot afford to opt for another complete lockdown and also appealed the traders to strictly follow the government’s SOPs for curbing the spread of deadly coronavirus. He observed that the complete lockdowns had created havoc globally, as the countries, which were providing loans had also came under debts while Pakistan is already facing financial crunch due to huge burden of debts. So, complete lockdown is not a good option, he added.

Kashif Anwar observed that the government will have to make visible reduction in taxes in the budget to help revive the businesses, which are near to bankruptcies owing to slowdown amidst coronavirus.

He asked the government to take concrete steps to attract foreign investment, saving the livelihood of millions of workers associated with various sectors, as foreign investment in Pakistan’s long-term projects like power plants and oil and gas exploration.

Referring to the latest figures, he pointed out that Pakistan’s foreign direct investment dropped 30 percent to $1.3 billion in the eight months of the current fiscal year, as FDI stood at $1.85 billion in the same period of the last fiscal year. The country drew $155.1 million in FDI in February, down 44 percent from a year earlier. The direct investment inflows to the country declined 20 percent on a month-on-month basis in February.

He said that like the domestic industry Covid-19 crisis has also forced the global investors to put their new investment plans on hold, while no visible improvement in employment is seen in the country. The small and medium industries (SMEs) -the main providers of jobs are still struggling because of lack of funds and demand.

Kashif Anwarr said that with a view to save the economy from the impacts of the slowdown due to the COVID-19 the government should announce special incentives for a cash-strapped SMEs, which represents more than 90 percent of around 3.2 million business enterprises in Pakistan, contributing 40 percent to the GDP, employing more than 80 percent of non-agricultural workforce, and generating 25 percent of export earnings. He expressed dissatisfaction over the financial packages by the government for the businesses to deal with the financial crunch, called for a significant cut in import duties and waiver of sales tax, income tax and additional income taxes, for the smooth running of trade and industry.

He said that businesses are already in a complicated state-of-affairs, while anti-business actions against business community were not only adding to the miseries of the business community but are also promoting trust deficit between the government and the business community.=DNA