KP businessmen call for complete end to lockdown

Updated Jun 03 2020

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Business community rejects government’s decision to allow business activities for five days a week. ⁠— Tanveer Shahzad/Dawn/File
Business community rejects government’s decision to allow business activities for five days a week. ⁠— Tanveer Shahzad/Dawn/File

PESHAWAR: The business community has presented a 48-point charter of demands to the government, which include a complete end to lockdown, early payment of tax refunds, lifting of ban on wheat transportation from Punjab to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and one-year tax waiver to revive business activities in the province.

Addressing a news conference on the premises of the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry here on Tuesday, the representatives of various bodies of traders and industrialists rejected the government’s decision to allow business activities for five days a week and demanded a complete end to the lockdown without delay under strict standard operating procedure to stem the spread of novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

SCCI president Maqsood Pervaiz said restrictions on businesses were no more acceptable to the people, including industrialists, traders, exporters and importers.

He said the business community had asked the federal government to immediately release tax refunds without discrimination as announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Also ask govt to pay tax refunds, lift ban on wheat transportation

Mr Pervaiz said the ban on wheat transportation from Punjab to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa should be lifted to prevent flour crisis in the province.

He also said the government should extend financial support to traders for the payment of the rent of private commercial buildings and waive off all federal and provincial taxes for one year.

The SCCI president called for an immediate end to lockdown, which, he said, is no solution to the pandemic.

He said traders were ready to extend full cooperation to the administration for the enforcement of SOPs in markets to contain the virus.

Mr Pervaiz said traders faced severe financial crisis due to the prolonged lockdown.

He said the opening of bazaars for a limited duration was the basic reason of the huge influx of visitors in markets.

“If the restrictions are removed, the people will be able to maintain social distancing,” he said.

Businessmen Shahid Hussain, Abdul Jalil Jan, Ghazanfar Bilour, Riaz Arshad, Haji Mohammad Afzal, Faiz Mohammad Faizi, Aftab Iqbal, Junaid Altaf, Ihsanullah, Mujebur Rehman, Altaf Baig, Nisarullah Khan, Shams Rahim and Mehr Elahi, trader leaders, industrialists and exporters were present on the occasion.

The SCCI president said though India, US and Europe had recorded a large number of coronavirus fatalities and cases, they’re seriously considering to end lockdowns.

He warned that if uninterrupted business activities were not allowed, the people would continue flooding markets during the allowed time.

Mr Pervaiz also called for the refund payments by airlines to Umrah and Haj pilgrims.

Former FPCCI president Ghazanfar Bilour flayed restrictions on wheat movement from Punjab to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa saying they will affect more than seven million families. He demanded of the government to immediately lift the ban to avoid flour crisis in the province.

Mr Bilour said the government was releasing only the payment of Rs5 million as outstanding refunds but for the last six years, the payment of outstanding refunds to business community had been pending.

He demanded the payment of refund dues to businesspersons without discrimination and delay.

Businessmen Shahid Husain, Riaz Arshad, Haji Muhammad Afzal, Faiz Mohammad Faizi, Mehr Elahi and Mujeebur Rehman asked the government to allow business activities in the province throughout the week.

They also demanded removal of hurdles to Pak-Afghan trade.

Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2020