LAHORE: Chief Minister Usman Buzdar announced Rs5 billion relief package for those affected by Hafeez Centre fire during his visit to the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday.
Addressing the traders, the chief minister said that he had directed the line departments to immediately reach the Hafeez Centre and supervise the rescue operation. He said the government would provide soft loans to 207 fire affectees in collaboration with the Bank of Punjab to help resume their businesses. He said around Rs1.6 billion would be given as a subsidy of mark-up.
Stating that the government is standing with the business community, Mr Buzdar said instructions had been issued to reactivate the committees for further strengthening the cooperation between the business community and the administration. Similarly, he said, the citizen-police liaison committee was being reactivated and representation of the business community would be ensured in it so as to facilitate the traders.
The chief minister said the Punjab government was establishing 13 special economic zones and added that work had been started in Faisalabad and Lahore while the foundation stones would soon be laid in Bahawalpur and Muzaffargarh.
He said the government had also launched the Punjab Rozgar Scheme to provide soft loans worth Rs30 billion. Along with it, he said, the government had given a tax relief package of Rs56 billion that included direct tax relief of Rs18 billion to the business community during coronavirus pandemic and rate of taxes was sufficiently decreased on 20 different services.
Mr Buzdar said the sales tax ratio had been decreased from 16 per cent to zero on 13 sectors affected by coronavirus and stamp duty had been decreased from five per cent to one per cent.The chief minister assured that meaningful steps would be taken to overcome Hafeez Centre fire- like incidents in future and the Rescue 1122 would be provided more resources. He said rehabilitation of affectees was a priority and assured that the restoration process of traders would be further accelerated.
Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht said the relief package had been finalized in collaboration with the Bank of Punjab and added the government would continue working for the welfare of the traders.
LCCI President Mian Tariq Misbahur Rehman thanked the chief minister for his all-out support and said police and administration were fully cooperating with them.
He said the chief minister had won traders’ hearts by giving them the relief package.
Traders Fayyaz Butt and Malik Kaleem thanked the chief minister for providing financial relief to the affectees. Provincial minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan, secretaries of finance, industries and information departments and BOP president were present.
Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2020