KARACHI: Traders representatives on Tuesday urged the Sindh government to provide interest-free loans to taxpaying small traders and shopkeepers.
They further sought financial assistance for paying salaries to workers as their businesses are closed amid lockdown to contain spread of Covid-19.
Talking to Dawn, All City Tajir Itehad (ACTI) president Sharjeel Gopalani said that 10 days ago he wrote a letter to Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah to address traders’ grievances.
He urged the provincial government to disburse Rs100,000 to small traders for every month so that they could pay salaries to their workers.
In the letter, Gopalani asked Shah to consider the proposed measures so that shops could be reopened by taking precautionary measures in the markets to contain spread of coronavirus.
However, after failing to receive any response from the chief minister, the ACTI has since reached out to print and electronic media to help get their demand heard.
The ACTI put a walk through gate at its press conference on Tuesday. “This gate can be installed at the entry and exit points of other markets easily. Shopkeepers and customers would enter the market through this gate after undergoing sanitisation and spray process. Besides, masks and hand gloves would also be kept outside shops and godowns along with washbasins,” he said.
He said the Sindh government and Commissioner Karachi should send a team at Timber Market to see the demo of gate and other facilities and then allow installation of the gate in other markets so that trade activities could be restored.
When asked if assistance was taken from the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), he said “We are doing our work. KCCI basically looks after the interest of industries rather than small traders.”
General Secretary ACTI, Ahmed Shamsi claimed the association represents 25 per cent strength of city’s total markets. “We are in touch with other trade bodies’ representatives who also support reopening of shops,” he added.
Shamsi further asked the federal government to defer the condition of CNIC for business activities for one year. He further sought removal of all additional duties and taxes on imports.
“Small traders cannot pay rent of their shops, offices and houses. Many are not even unable to pay hefty school fees of their kids in view of zero sales activities,” Shamsi claimed.
Meanwhile, President KCCI Agha Shahab said, “The Sindh government is making standard operating procedures (SoPs) before giving permission for opening trade and industries.”
He said the KCCI would support the Sindh government’s decision in this regard.
On the issue of small traders’ grievances, he claimed that Siraj Kassam Teli has been highlighting of small traders at every meeting with CM Sindh.
Patron-in-Chief All Pakistan Motorcycle Spare Parts Importers and Dealers Association (APMSPIDA), Faisal Khalil, in a statement, urged the federal government to direct utility agencies not to charge bills of shops and houses from all traders at least for three months so that they could clear two months’ salary of labour and workers.
He urged the government to force private schools and colleges not to take fees for two months. He further requested the federal government to defer the condition of CNIC for two months.
Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2020