Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has urged the business community to ensure a strict implementation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in markets and commercial areas in order to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.
During an online meeting with Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) President Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan, the minister warned that the third wave of coronavirus had spread to dangerous levels and the situation demanded that the business community play a role in strict compliance with the SOPs in business areas to control further Covid-19 infections.
He stressed that a reduction in coronavirus cases would help the government to consider easing restrictions on businesses. Speaking on the occasion, the ICCI chief apprised the minister of the consequences of reduced business hours and requested him to consider extending them during Ramazan.
He also called on the business community and the general public to strictly follow the Covid-19 SOPs to avert any lockdown, which would cause great losses to business activities, render thousands of daily-wage workers and other workers jobless, make lives more miserable, fuel a further increase in inflation besides badly impacting the economy.
Khan said that the only way to curb the spread of Covid-19 was to follow the SOPs as there was no other solution.
The ICCI president pointed out that due to the previous lockdowns, Pakistan’s economy had reportedly suffered a loss of approximately Rs2.5 trillion while around three million workers lost their jobs due to which thousands of families suffered.
“Due to Covid-19, Pakistan’s economy went into negative growth last fiscal year for the first time since 1968,” he highlighted, adding that the best way to save the economy and businesses from more losses was to follow the SOPs in daily life.
He said that those countries that imposed lockdowns to control the coronavirus provided ample relief to their businesses and the general public.
“However, a country like Pakistan cannot go for lockdown without putting its businesses and the people into trouble,” he lamented.
Therefore, he emphasised that Pakistan as a nation should learn lessons from the previous lockdowns and ensure complete implementation of the SOPs to control the spread of coronavirus, keep businesses open, save workers from unemployment and check a further rise in inflation.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2021.
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