KARACHI: In a meeting with traders on Saturday, the Sindh government agreed to let traders open their businesses on a rotational basis, provided that they operate in line with standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued in connection with the pandemic lockdown.
It was decided during the meeting that selected businesses would be allowed to operate on specific days, such that all related enterprises opened on same day. For example, electricians, air conditioner shops and those selling other electrical appliances would open on the same days. Similarly, tailors and embroiderers would work on days fixed for the textile and garments sector.
Traders also requested the government to allow them to begin home delivery services, at which Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah expressed keen interest in scaling up online and on-call business activities.
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"This is the way to [go about] practicing social distancing," he observed.
The CM also constituted a committee, including Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani, Sindh Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh, Sindh Excise and Taxation Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla and Sindh Information and Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, tasking them with consulting traders and devising SOPs for small businesses.
The committee has been instructed to frame the guidelines and submit them to the CM for approval today (Sunday), as well as share the SOPs with the federal government.
On the traders' plea, the CM also agreed to relax some taxes levied on them by the Sindh Revenue Board and the excise and taxation department, assuring them that he would also request the Centre to advance soft, long-term loans for businessmen.
Traders expressed appreciation for the CM for his support and cooperation to the business community and taking prompt action against the pandemic.
Guidelines for businesses
Later, traders separately met the members of the committee formed to frame the SOPs for businesses.
Following the meeting, Ghani told media persons that various issued were brought to the table during the meeting and traders made multiple recommendations regarding guidelines for resuming businesses.
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Businesses activities have been classified into 13 sectors, he said, adding that the recommendations would be presented to the CM today (Sunday) and then a final report would be sent to Prime Minister Imran Khan for approval.
"The Sindh government wants to devise a uniform policy that could be implemented for all businesses across the country," he said.
Addressing media persons separately, the information minister made it clear that only those businesses would be allowed to function that would comply with the SOPs being devised by the government completely and limit their services to home delivery.
The minister warned that any trader found not to be abiding by the SOPs would be restricted from working.
"[Also] it is not possible for the Sindh government to allow all businesses to open at once," he said, implying that this would lead to a resurgence of the virus. "They are to be resumed gradually, after the formulation of SOPs," the minister stressed.
He further said that the government also planned to devise SOPs for health facilities including dispensaries, hospitals and clinics. The CM had met the members of the Pakistan Medical Association for the purpose, he said, adding that they were told that only those complying with the SOPs would be allowed to open clinics. He also sought their suggestions regarding teleclinics, the minister said.
The minister said that he was aware of difficulties being faced by the business community and expressed hope that with the cooperation of traders and citizens, the government would overcome the pandemic soon.