Capital traders lament NCOC’s ‘unilateral decision’ on market closures

ISLAMABAD: The business community of the federal capital has said that they cannot afford closure of businesses for two days a week and urged the government to notify closure of businesses only on Sundays.

Representatives of different market associations in a meeting chaired by Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan, President of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI), said on Saturday that they have already suffered huge business losses due to previous lockdowns and restrictions of timings; therefore, it is unaffordable for them to keep businesses closed for two days a week.

Addressing the meeting, Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan noted that governments in many countries are providing significant financial relief to businesses in order to enable them combat the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, “but in Pakistan, instead of providing relief, businesses are being closed twice a week, which will prove very harmful for the economy as it will cause permanent closure of a large number of businesses and render thousands of people jobless”.

He said that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has also been requested multiple times by ICCI to allow tax filers to pay their taxes in instalments or offer taxpayers a deferred filing date in order to give some relaxation to businesses that have suffered losses in billions of rupees.

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He said that the business community is satisfied with Chief Commissioner Islamabad Amir Ali Ahmed and Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat because they have adopted a cooperative approach towards businesses and have facilitated them throughout the entire Covid-19 scenario; however, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) is making decisions for business closure without any consultation with the business community, which is not a wise approach.

He said being the key stakeholders of the economy, the government should take all important economic decisions in consultation with the business community, especially the chambers of commerce, so as to save the economy from further contraction.

The market representatives shared many ideas with the ICCI president to keep businesses running by implementation of SOPs and authorised him to negotiate with the Islamabad Capital Territory administration to convince the government for closure of businesses once a week as opposed to two days so that the business community does not suffer any further and can work towards economic revival.

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