ISLAMABAD: The parliamentary committee on Covid-19 on Monday recommended the release of arrested traders and invited the business community to share their concerns caused by the lockdown.
Chairing a meeting of the committee, Senator Syed Shibli Faraz said the government was well aware of the sufferings of traders and mentioned the government’s relief package.
Meanwhile, Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Dr Fehmida Mirza said that there was a dire need to formulate a unanimous policy regarding lockdown in the country. She called for cooperative federalism which would create harmony in relief efforts and combating this disease. She also called upon the participants to discuss the policy issues related to coronavirus in the Council of Common Interests.
The business community was represented by FPCCI President Anjum Nisar and Small Traders Association President Ajmal Baloch.
Mr Nisar stressed that the condition of CNIC might be suspended for some time as many importers were selling their items to the investors under the current lockdown conditions instead of routine trading channel.
They pointed out the problems faced by the business community, including traders and the industrialists, and demanded policy decision on rents as shops and offices have been shutdown for more than a month.
Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar responded to the issue of ban on exports to Afghanistan, whereas the Afghan Transit Trade continued through Pakistan.
The minister said that majority of the exports to Afghanistan were food items and, therefore, in order to ensure food security in the country, the ban was imposed.
He added that a single package could not address the issues of all the industrial sectors, and sector-specific packages would be devised by the government.
The committee members demanded that implementation of the decision taken by the committee must be followed in letter and spirit. It was observed that there had to be legal action against the mill owners who laid off their workers and were not paying their outstanding wages.
The committee, unanimously, recommended for the release of arrested traders in Karachi at the earliest.
On the other hand, members of the parliamentary committee belonging to opposition parties demanded that the government take strong measures to tackle the current situation and stressed that all the decisions of the government had to be in consultation with the provinces.
The members from Balochistan stressed that for inviting representatives of the farming community in the next meeting of the committee to hear their concerns.
Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2020