KARACHI: Chairman Businessmen Group (BMG) Zubair Motiwala and President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Shariq Vohra, while expressing sheer dismay over Sindh Govt's decision to allow limited business timings from Sheri to 6:00PM and complete closure of businesses on Saturdays and Sundays, urged to revoke the relevant notification without further loss of time and allow all types of businesses to operate at full capacity throughout Ramazan otherwise the people, instead of dying due to diseases caused by coronavirus, would die themselves because of poverty, unemployment, mental stress, hunger or starvation.
They said that they have been urging the Sindh Government through letters to avoid imposing such unpopular decisions at a very crucial time as this was the peak season and if businesses are disallowed to carry out activities for two consecutive days and compelled to observe limited business timings during the remaining working days, it will prove to be disastrous for them throughout next year.
"We have sent letters to Chief Minister Sindh, Local Govt. Minister, Chief Secretary and Commissioner Karachi and also dropped messages from time to time but haven't received any response which is a bit disappointing as we were not expecting this kind of response from Sindh Government which has always responded to KCCI's pleas", said Zubair Motiwala Chairman BMG, "Closure of businesses for two consecutive days and allowing them to operate with limited timings during the remaining days would result in bankrupting many businesses, trigger massive unemployment and chaos."
Referring to large number of complaints being received from the shopkeepers of almost all the commercial markets of Karachi who were constantly seeking KCCI's assistance, Chairman BMG stressed that the government has to come up with some other feasible solution which could save everyone from the pandemic and also ensure zero damage to the poor shopkeepers and small traders who cannot afford any further shocks.
"In this regard, the business and industrial community is ready to fully comply with all the SOPs; but closure would bring much more difficulties and miseries than opening, and controlling the pandemic through the implementation of SOPs", he added.
He further said, "These are challenging times and every member of the civil society is facing problems due to COVID crises. Perhaps, it is time when the government should think about extending monetary help to citizens especially the small shopkeepers who are now in net debt position and even paying rents to owners of their business premises has really become difficult."
"It is the finding of our Research Department that many shopkeepers have already gone bankrupt and they are running their businesses in anticipation that this season of Ramazan will pull them out of crises. Hence, it is imperative that government should understand the real situation faced by the trading community", he added.
"Yes! It is necessary to implement but these SOPs, as the trading argues, are not seen on roads, mosques, public places and big shopping malls. In such a situation, how Karachiites will be saved from COVID if they are closed for two days", Zubair Motiwala questioned.
He therefore, stressed that the notification must be immediately withdrawn while the administration should be utilized for strict implementation of the SOPs. "If the administration was able to strictly get the lockdown enforced last year, then why it is not being used for strict implementation of SOPs", he asked, adding that the Sindh government will have to alleviate the predicament of businessmen instead of aggravating them.
President KCCI Shariq Vohra also cautioned that shutting down shops for two days and limited business hours would lead to creating a chaotic situation as the people would find no other option but to come out on streets to protest due to rising unemployment and poverty. Keeping in view the overall situation and grievances suffered by the business and industrial community, President KCCI hoped that the Sindh government would look into this serious issue and take steps to save businesses and the economy from further disaster.
On behalf of the entire business community of Karachi particularly the small traders and shopkeepers, Chairman BMG and President KCCI appealed the government to review the decision to shut down all types of commercial/ business activities for two consecutive days a week and allowing limited business hours till 6:00PM which is tantamount to mass killing of the already perturbed small traders and shopkeepers who are in deep crises and struggling really hard to somehow keep their businesses alive.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021