Govt urged to facilitate exporters, manufacturers amid virus lockdowns

ISLAMABAD: The Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) has urged the federal government and provinces to ease the coronavirus lockdown restrictions on and facilitate exporters, as well as manufacturers, transporters, distributors and retailers of essential goods to prevent disruptions in the supply chain.

Supporting enforcement of lockdown and other measures taken by the federal government and the provinces to limit the spread of Covid-19, the OICCI has separately written to Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Commerce, Industries and Production minister Abdul Razzak Dawood, seeking their support for easing certain restrictions on the movement of persons as well as raw materials for the industries involved in the manufacture of the essential items.

The chamber has also called for correct interpretation and proper implementation of the guidelines given in the notifications issued by the provincial governments. Urging the Sindh government to ensure unrestricted movement of people and raw materials for industries like medicines, food, petroleum, medical gases, sanitization items like soaps, shampoos and detergents critical for coronavirus prevention, the OICCI, which represents foreign investors operating in the country, said the transportation services, factories and distribution outlets involved in the supply of these items should remain open.

It said the government’s guidelines in this regard were being wrongly interpreted and foreign investors like Procter and Gamble, Unilever and some others have complained of not being allowed to provide services as per guidelines.

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The chamber requested the chief minister to immediately intervene to facilitate uninterrupted movement of essential goods and related persons. It said the government should appoint a focal person to authorize free movement of such essential goods on the basis of recommendation from the respective CEO of the foreign-owned company.

In the letter to the commerce minister, the OICCI urged him to direct the law enforcement agencies, especially the Rangers, to allow uninterrupted movement of export goods and essential items.

It also requested that the two or more employees of the companies with temperature screening facilities should be allowed to travel together in a vehicle. Further, the suppliers of packaging and other raw materials need to be allowed access to the factories to help them avoid interruption in production and distribution.

The OICCI called upon the minister to intervene to help the manufacturers get their goods that have reached the ports cleared by the customs and transported irrespective of the nature of goods. This should include plants and machinery.

It also pointed out that shipping lines and agents were not being allowed to operate. “Original Bills of Lading (BoL) are required in support of export documentation. Therefore, shipping lines and agents should be allowed to open and staff their offices.”

It further demanded to widen the scope of the essential items list to include cement, building materials, PTA and other chemicals to be classified as essential goods to supply for the construction, textile, packaging and other essential industries.

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