The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) President Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan said on Tuesday that due to the rise in the third wave of coronavirus, the government has started to put restrictions on businesses such as banning all indoor and outdoor wedding functions from April 1, keeping markets closed for two days in a week and limiting timings for commercial activities.
He contended that these measures would result in great losses for businesses besides rendering thousands of people jobless. He said the government should realise that when businesses are closed, how would the owners pay rent and salaries to their employees.
Khan called upon the government to consider announcing a bailout package for businesses in order to enable them to combat the impact of the pandemic without suffering more financial losses.
He maintained that Pakistan has already suffered an economic loss of up to Rs2.5 trillion due to Covid in the current fiscal year and further closure of businesses would cause more harm to the economy.
The president said that governments around the world have announced bailout packages for businesses in order to keep them afloat, but in Pakistan instead of providing relief to businesses, the government was taking measures that will create more problems for them.
He stated that the USA has announced a package of USD1.9 trillion to help small businesses, UK unveiled a USD6.2 billion rescue package while Australia announced several stimuli and relief packages of around USD100 billion to sustain small businesses.
He lamented that in Pakistan, instead of announcing any bailout package for businesses, the government has withdrawn tax exemptions of Rs140 billion from many sectors through a Presidential Ordinance besides unilaterally registering all tax returns-filing real estate dealers as Designated Non-Financial Business and Professions (DNFBPs).
He said that the government further directed them to provide full details of their clients and property transactions after completing customer due diligence.
He added that these measures would affect the prime minister’s construction package and discourage new investment in the sector.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2021.
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