ISLAMABAD, MAY 17 (DNA) – The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) has called upon the government to lift all restrictions on businesses after May 19, 2021 as business community has already suffered huge financial losses due to lockdown during peak business reason of Eid ul Fitr and could no longer afford any further lockdowns and restrictions.

Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry said that the Eid spending in 2018 had touched the highest level of over Rs.1 trillion in Pakistan, but due to lockdowns, it was projected at Rs.560 billion in 2020 showing a decline of 44 percent.

He said that the lockdowns and restrictions on businesses in 2020 were the major factor of bringing Eid spending down by 44 percent while Eid economy in 2021 has been badly hit due to week-long lockdown just before Eid despite the fact that Ramadan and Eid were the peak business reasons in Pakistan.

Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan said that Pakistan was estimated to have suffered an economic loss of Rs.2.5 trillion due to coronavirus restrictions in 2020 while according to another estimate, Pakistan will observe an economic loss of about 10% amounting to over PKR.1 trillion in 2021, which was enough to show the extent of losses incurred by the businesses and the economy. He said that the lockdowns and restrictions have reportedly impacted the livelihoods of nearly 12.3 million to 18.53 million workers due to which a rise of over 33% in poverty level was projected in the country.

These estimates could cause a severe recession in our economy, therefore, the government should realize the gravity of the situation and consider lifting all restrictions on businesses in the upcoming meeting of NCOC to save them from further collapse, he emphasized.

The ICCI President said that he had carried out visits along with the DC ICT to various markets of the federal capital before the Eid lockdown and had noted that the majority of the business community and the customers were following SOPs, due to which the trend of Covid-19 cases in Islamabad was on the decline. This situation demanded that the government should have relaxed restrictions on businesses in the federal capital during the last week of Ramadan, which unfortunately was not done.

He said that the business community in collaboration with the district administration was enforcing SOPs to curtail any further spread of the coronavirus while all the trade/retail associations of Islamabad were willing to handover a signed petition to the government for ensuring complete compliance of Covid-19 SOPs. Therefore, He urged that during the next meeting of NCOC, all restrictions on businesses in Islamabad should be lifted to revive the business and economic activities.

He further urged that the indoor and outdoor dining should be allowed in Islamabad since restaurants all over the Middle East and most of Europe were allowing indoor dining with acrylic or glass partitions between each table. He said that the restaurant associations were willing to install the same acrylic partitions in Pakistan to maintain social distancing between each table.

He further emphasized that the NCOC must take all decisions concerning the businesses in consultation with chambers of commerce and trade bodies, which were the key stakeholders of the economy and unilateral decisions entailed harmful consequences for the overall economy.=DNA