The business community welcomes the announcement of Prime Minister Imran Khan to lift countrywide lockdown in phases and reopen all construction related industries as well as shopping centres for five days in a week.

They said that it would help the businesses and industrial units to revive business activities and play role in reducing the miseries of jobless labour by providing them opportunities of daily earnings.

This was said by Muhammad Ahmed Waheed, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry while giving his reaction on government’s decision to allow businesses to reopen.

Muhammad Ahmed Waheed said that due to continuous lockdown, economy of our country was getting weak day by day, which was not viable for a developing country like Pakistan.

He said that government has met the demand of business community for reopening businesses and now it was their responsibility to take all required precautionary measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 and strengthen government’s hands in combating this deadly virus.

He said that government has launched Secured Transactions Registry (STR) to facilitate micro, small and medium enterprises in getting access to financial services, which was a positive move. He said that SMEs were playing vital role in the economic development of the country, but were facing problems in access to finance due to which their share in total lending of banks was just 6 percent. He hoped that STR would pave way for better growth of SME sector by facilitating it in access to finance.

ICCI President said that investment of many SMEs on goods or services have suffered heavy losses on account of cancellation of orders due to Covid-19 and urged that government should compensate them by providing some relief.

He said that SBP has introduced a temporary refinance scheme for payment of wages and salaries of workers, however, banks were demanding guarantees/collateral from SMEs for availing this scheme.

He said that due to Covid-19, businesses have already suffered huge losses and providing collateral for them in these tough time was difficult. He stressed that government should consider waiving off the condition of collaterals for availing said scheme by the businesses.

He said that many industrial units had taken loans from banks for business expansion, but due to closure of manufacturing activities, it has become difficult for them to pay back loans with markup.

He demanded that government should defer their loans with mark up for 6 months to ease their problems.