The Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) and the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) have demanded an extension in business hours in Ramazan.
They have urged the government to review its notification to close businesses by 6pm during Ramazan.
RCCI President Mohammad Nasir Mirza said the business volume increases during Ramazan due to Eid shopping and restricting the timing for businesses would hurt business activities.
“The business community has suffered badly due to Covid-19 and reducing business hours would cause more rush in the markets which would lead to further spread of Covid-19,” he said. He proposed that business hours during Ramazan month be extended to 11pm.
He added that the chambers of commerce and business representative bodies be taken into confidence in these matters. He added that RCCI has always advised the government to consult stakeholders while finalising any trade-related policy.
Mirza said the government should take measures to ensure strict implementation of SOPs in markets and allow all businesses to operate at normal timings to save them from further losses.
He proposed that measures be taken to avoid the rush at business premises, hand sanitisers be kept handy at business places and social distancing be maintained.
“The RCCI is already running a social media awareness campaign on wearing masks and urged its members and trade bodies to strictly observe the SOPs,” he added.
Meanwhile, ICCI President Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan said the National Command Operations Center (NCOC) had decided to close normal businesses by 6pm during the month of Ramazan. He said that the business community of the entire country was not satisfied with the decision and urged that the government reconsider it to save businesses from further losses.
He urged the government to give a second thought to this decision and allow businesses to remain open until midnight in Ramazan. He further urged that before taking any decision that had a direct impact on businesses, the major chambers of commerce and trade bodies must be taken fully on board and the practice of taking unilateral decisions should be avoided at all cost as such decisions always lead to detrimental consequences for business and economy.
Without a financial relief package in place or any form of reprieve from the FBR, several businesses were likely to declare bankruptcy rendering thousands of people jobless, he added.
Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan said that the third wave of coronavirus was all over the world but in nearly all countries, the businesses were operating with SOPs at normal timings.
The ICCI president said hundreds and thousands of passengers were travelling in airlines within a closed environment where meals were also being served. “All markets, malls, restaurants, cinemas and family festivals are open in the UAE. Malls and markets are also open with normal timings in the UK.”
The ICCI president also called on the business community to fully support the government in controlling the third wave of coronavirus by ensuring strict implementation of SOPs.
He said that masks should be made mandatory for those working in shops and no customer should be allowed to enter the business premises without a mask.
He went on to say that that measures should be taken to avoid the rush at business premises, hand sanitisers should be kept ready at business places and social distancing should be maintained.
He was of the view that only by implementing the SOPs can the Covid-19 pandemic be controlled and businesses can be run at normal timings. A day ago, the All Pakistan Anjuman Tajiran (APAT) and the Islamabad traders’ action committee had demanded from the administration to increase the business hours in the markets. In a joint statement, they had contended that the reduction in business hours increases rushes in the markets which increase the chances of Covid-19 spread.
The APAT chief said there was galloping inflation in the country and the administration was resorting to imposing heavy fines on traders. The traders rejected the notification issued by Islamabad Deputy Commissioner (DC) and said that they were outraged over the government’s anti-business policies.