KARACHI: Chairman Businessmen Group (BMG) Siraj Kassam Teli and President Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, while strongly rejecting the extension in lockdown up to July 15, urged the Sindh Government to immediately revoke the relevant notification and allow all types of businesses to operate at full capacity which is the only way to save the economy and the businesses from total collapse.

In a statement issued, Chairman BMG Siraj Kassam Teli stated that various businesses including restaurants, hotels, marriage halls, beauty parlors, cinema houses, business centers, sports facilities, and educational institutes etc. have remained completely closed since last four consecutive months that has resulted in plunging all these businesses on the verge of complete collapse. “These businesses are already going through terrible crises and further extension in the lockdown would wipe them out forever that would lead to further intensifying the hardships not only for the business community but also for the already ailing economy, besides triggering massive unemployment which would prove more dangerous than the coronavirus pandemic.”

Siraj Teli, therefore, stressed that the extension in lockdown must immediately be withdrawn while the administration should be effectively utilized for strict implementation of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). “If the administration is able to strictly get the lockdown enforced then why it is not being used for strict implementation of SOPs”, he asked, adding that the Sindh government will have to alleviate the predicament of businessmen instead of aggravating them.

“On one hand the federal and provincial governments have not provided any relief to these businesses while on the other, the Sindh government has issued COVID-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance 2020 which compels the businessmen and industrialists to retain their employees and keep on paying salaries while the businesses should remain closed. It has created a very odd situation when neither any income is being generated nor financial relief has been provided by the government which happens nowhere around the world. Therefore, this biased Relief Ordinance should also be withdrawn”, Siraj Teli said, adding that although some relief has been provided through SBP’s financing schemes to large businesses only who are registered with the FBR but not a single such scheme was introduced to rescue and support hundreds and thousands of unregistered small shopkeepers/ traders. A financing facility to such unregistered small traders/ shopkeepers would have helped in making them registered.

He was of the opinion that as countries around the world are reopening now, the businesses in Pakistan cannot be kept shut forever therefore, all businesses must be allowed to reopen immediately otherwise, these business will be lost forever which would send a very negative message about Pakistan to the rest of the world.

Chairman BMG, while referring to numerous measures adopted by the Federal and Provincial governments since the imposition of lockdown from March 23, said that Sindh government strived really hard to deal with COVID-19 pandemic and they deserve to be appreciated but unfortunately, the number of people affected by coronavirus continues to rise as the public and also the members of the business community have been largely ignoring the SOPs due to lack of discipline. “It is high time that the administration must actively play its due role and if it fails to do so, the patriotic troops from Pakistan Army can be engaged to rescue the country, teach discipline to the masses and get the SOPs enforced all the time which is the only way to save our beloved motherland from further disaster”, he added.

He said, “We have been reiterating since last three months that coronavirus pandemic is not going anywhere and we have to live with it and continue our businesses in a disciplined manner. We cannot afford further extension in lockdown so we have to exhibit the discipline which is the first step on the road to success.”

President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan also cautioned that if the lockdown is not suspended immediately, many businesses would shut down forever that would lead to creating a chaotic situation as the people would find no other option but to come out on streets to protest due to rising unemployment and poverty.

Keeping in view the overall situation and grievances suffered by the business and industrial community, President KCCI hoped that the Sindh government would provide the desperately needed relief to local businesses by completely revoking the lockdown on top priority so that the businesses and the economy could be saved from further disaster.