KARACHI: Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) said the draft of Sindh COVID-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance prepared by Sindh Government is not acceptable.

Chairman Businessmen Group (BMG) Siraj Kassam Teli and President Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan urged Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah to take the business and industrial community into confidence prior to finalizing any such ordinance.
In a statement issued, Chairman BMG and President KCCI pointed out that the ordinance will make it lawfully binding upon the employers in the province not to lay off or terminate the services of any of their employees during the shutdown of their business units due to the lockdown.

The employees will be considered as being on paid leave and the draft ordinance ensures payment of salaries to such employees who would remain on paid leave during the closure of their offices.

“The business and industrial community is also not willing to expel their workforce but they have been facing severe liquidity crunch due to suspension of business activities and finding it really hard to bear salaries payable for the idle workers when no revenue is being generated hence, the government will have come forward to share the burden.”

Industry somehow sustained the entire burden of wages and salaries payable for the month of March but they will not be able to do so next month when salaries payable for April become due.

Hence, a Special Relief Package has to be announced and made part of the Ordinance in which either the entire cost of salaries/ wages has to be borne by the government or a mechanism has to be adopted for a period of at least two to three months in which the aggregate amount of salaries payable by businesses and industries should be fragmented into three equal portions, of which the first portion should be paid by the relevant industrialist and second portion must be contributed by the government while the last portion has to be borne by the employees.

They further noted that although it is mentioned in the draft ordinance that the government may provide exemption in the provincial taxes, duties, fees, cess, levies, and charges in a manner as notified by the government but the Relief Ordinance must guarantee that the Sindh Revenue Board (SRB) will be barred from collecting all types of taxes for a period of at least six months.

They said small traders and shopkeepers had 2-3 employees, and they could not afford to pay salaries while the business was closed.

“We haven’t heard much about any relief to these shopkeepers and traders which is really worrisome and requires equal attention”, they added.

Siraj Teli and Agha Shahab stated that the business and industrial community fully supports all the initiatives taken by the government to completely eradicate COVID-19 and provide relief but at the same time, the government will have to extend the desperately needed helping hand to the business and industrial community with a view to reduce the excessive burden on the shoulders of industries and enable them to survive in the ongoing extraordinary situation.