ISLAMABAD: The business community has urged the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to revisit its decision of restoring the Saturday holiday for banks across the country which will have a negative impact on both international trade and local businesses.
On Friday, the central bank notified that it will now observe a 5-day working week, with the office hours increased during the five-day workweek. The SBP issued new banking timings.
President Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FPCCI) Irfan Iqbal Sheikh told Business Recorder that the most serious impact of banks not functioning on Saturday would lead to delays in the opening of L/Cs, their encashment, making payments, etc.
He said that this was bad for businesses as government departments will be open on Saturday but banks will be closed to cater to routine business needs.
A member of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce Malik Ibrar concurred urging the State Bank to make it a six-day week like the federal government for the facilitation of business and the general public. He reminded the decision-makers who talk of transforming the country into a developed country like China and other progressing economies, that some banks in China operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to facilitate trading partners in other time zones like Europe and the Americas.
Chairman Pakistan Readymade Garments Association Ijaz Khokhar welcomed the government's decision of six working days and pointed out that the industry was working seven days a week and needed a day to day interaction with Commerce Ministry and other relevant ministries to enhance exports and suggested that banks should also be opened for six days in a week.
Former principal economic adviser finance ministry Dr Ashfaque Hasan Khan said that the current economic situation warrants conservation of energy and fuel due to growing pressure on external accounts and the government decision to increase the five working days to six working days weekly makes no sense as it would increase consumption of electricity and fuel.
Earlier, on April 13, 2022, when the SBP decided to observe a six-day working week, a large number of bankers across the country staged protests demanding the restoration of Saturday as a weekly off, even threatening to take the holiday if the government did not revert its decision.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022