PIAF opposes option of another complete lockdown on Eidul Azha

Children wearing facemasks walk with a goat ahead of Muslim festival Eid al-Adha also called the 'Festival of Sacrifice' in Rawalpindi on July 22, 2020. / AFP / Farooq NAEEM

LAHORE, JUL 14 (DNA) – The Pakistan Industrial and Traders Association Front (PIAF) has rejected the option of imposing another lockdown in the country, saying the country could not afford to go back to lockdown and also urged the trade and industry to follow the government’s SOPs for curbing the spread of deadly coronavirus.

PIAF vice chairman Javed Siddiqi, in a statement, asked the government to avoid issuing threatening statements of reimposing lockdown, as it would create panic further among the business community as well as the general public.

He observed that COVID-19 cases’ fatality rate in Pakistan is very low for which the government is appreciated for taking the immediate measure to control the outbreak in the country. At the same time, instead of creating an environment of fear and stress, we must recognize the symptoms and exercise as many precautions as possible, he suggested.

Javed Iqbal Siddiqi said that the Eid is an important event for the business community when business liabilities are paid off along with benefits to hundreds of thousands of people attached to different operations of the economic activities; hence, all economic areas should be functioning smoothly during these days.

PIAF vice chairman Javed Siddiqi said that previous lockdowns had created havoc in the whole world as the nations which were giving loans had themselves come under debts. We were already facing financial crunch due to huge burden of debts. So, lockdown is not a good option, he added.

Javed Siddiqi observed that the government will have to make visible reduction in taxes to help revive the businesses, which are near to bankruptcies owing to previous slowdowns amidst coronavirus. According to data, Pakistan’s foreign direct investment dropped by more than 33 percent in 10 months of the current fiscal year. 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.

PIAF Vice Chairman said that the global lockdowns imposed to contain the virus badly impacted economic activities, businesses, people’s income and their purchasing power. The return of stability to the financial health of global firms is a must to attract new foreign investment in Pakistan.

He asked the government to announce special incentives for a cash-strapped SMEs, which represent 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 industry to deal with the financial crunch and 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.