Karachi: Ismail Suttar, President of the Apex Body of Manufacturers, The Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP), has said that the closure of industries & economic activities is not a solution to stop the spread of coronavirus, it would be rather economically suicidal. More important is to take protective and precautionary measures in operating businesses to ensure the safety of people and continuity of businesses.

Speaking at the Webinar on “SOPs for Operating Businesses and Economic Activities with Safety of Workers at the Workplace ” arranged by EFP in collaboration with the Labour & Industries Department Government of Sindh, he said that we are faced with unprecedented and difficult times never experienced before. Nevertheless, we need not to panic but face the crises and find out opportunities we need to think differently and learn from the experience from the history as how California State with its proactive approach during the Spanish flu pandemic succeeded in converting the crisis into opportunity for investors and results can be seen that today more than 50% billionaire are from the California State.

VP EFP Zaki Ahmed Khan, former president EFP Majyd Aziz, Secretary Industries & Commerce Sindh Dr. Naseem ul Ghani Sahto, Secretary Labour & Human Resource Abdul Rasheed Solangi, President Site Association of Industry Suleman Chawla, Country Director, International Labour Organization (ILO) Ms. Ingrid Christensen, Project Manager ILES Project Ms. Caroline Bates, Executive Director PILER Karamat Ali, Labour Leader Habib Uddin Junaidi and Chairman WEBCOP Ahsan Ullah Khan also spoke.

Majyd Aziz, former president of EFP in his remarks suggested exploring new avenues. The entrepreneurs and the industry should focus on innovation and preparation of mask, protected equipment and other COVID related equipment for the local and export market as there is a world-wide demand for these items and demand will continue even after the pandemic. The employers should come-up with new ideas and explore new markets.

Dr. Naseem ul Ghani Sahto, Secretary, Industries and Commerce Department Sindh said the situation is becoming very alarming due to speedy spread of virus. The people are neither taking precautions nor complying with SOPs in later and spirit. The hoarding and black marketing of Corona related medicines and protective equipment is leading towards national security issues.

Secretary Labour & Human Resource Department Sindh, Mr. Abdul Rasheed Solangi explained about the SOPs and said strict compliance of these SOPs at the workplace is necessary for the safety of the people and spread of Corona. He called upon the need of collective efforts by workers, employers and the government to face the challenges and consequences of the Corona crises.

Suleman Chawla, President SITE Association of Industry, said industries in the SITE area are complying with SOPs in operating their businesses. He added that workers are our assets and their safety is not only our responsibility but equally important for growth of our industry.

Ms. Ingrid Christensen, Country Director International Labour Organization (ILO) said the corona crisis is having serious impact and consequences on both formal and informal business and resulting in increasing life and livelihood issues. She said at this tiring time ILO is working with workers, employers and buyer organizations to support the manufacturers to survive the economic disruption caused by the crises and protect income, health and employment of workers.

Ms. Caroline Bates, Project Manager ILES Project emphasized the need for a safe and protected work environment for better productivity and protection of workers. She stressed upon the need for providing better information and training to ensure implementation of SOPs.

Karamat Ali, Executive Director PILER said coronavirus has impacted the world globally and created unprecedented health & economic consequences. He emphasized on the need for serious discussions on economic and social policies to ensure food security and social protection besides, aligning the policies to the need of the 21st century for creating free and independent society instead of living in the feudal society.

Habib Uddin Junaidi, Labour Leader said the poor governance and non-compliance culture in Pakistan is a major issue. The implementation and inspection process is very weak and institutions meant for this purpose lack capacity and capability.

Ahsan Ullah Khan, Chairman WEBCOP stressed upon the need of collective efforts and wisdom to mitigate the challenges and growth of local industry for sustainable socio-economic development. He said the successive government during the past ignored the local industry and promoted import oriented policies which not only limited the capacity of the local industry to innovate and expand but converted Pakistan into a trading country. He said if we had supported our industry, we would have been producing all PPEs and COVID related equipment in Pakistan instead of importing and bagging from the other countries. He stressed upon the need of joint voice of workers and employers for support and growth of local industry to make Pakistan Safe, Productive and Prosperous country.

Zaki Ahmed Khan, VP EFP thanked the guests and participants for their continuous support to industry during this difficult time and assured them complete support of EFP in the implementation of SOPs for a safe and protective workplace.