LAHORE-The Pakistan Industrial and Traders Association Front, raising its concern over announcement of financial packages by the government for industry to deal with the challenges posed by coronavirus, has said there is zero implementation on directives of government.

PIAF chairman Mian Nauman Kabir, addressing a press conference here at PIAF Office along with vice chairman Javed Iqbal, observed that not a single branch of any bank in provincial capital of Lahore is offering loan to SMEs on SBP directives to avoid layoffs.

On the basis of survey, he observed that no financial relief is seen anywhere on the ground from any government institutions or department including SBP, FBR, LESCO, SNGPL Punjab Social Security Dept and EOBI. He said that both government and the central bank are joking with the public and making them fool, as their all claims of financial relief for SMEs are a pack of lies.

Nauman Kabir urged the authorities to ensure provision of facilities on urgent basis especially to the documented small businesses and filers, which are paying taxes for the last 70 years and now facing severe financial crisis due to prolonged lockdown.

PIAF vice chairman Javed Iqbal Siddiqi, on this occasion, opposed the government decision of reopening specific markets. There is ambiguity in the decision and government should announce to reopen all markets without specification of ‘small, big, retail or wholesale’ to avoid confusion.

Javed Siddiqi said that time restriction will also create panic and rush among the customers, suggesting the government to also amend the timings of market opening. PIAF chairman asked the central bank and utility companies to report their performance regarding facilitation steps on daily basis through media to ensure transparency. Nauman Kabir asked the FBR to accept the tax return of this year ‘as it is’ and without any audit. He appealed the Punjab Revenue Authority to cancel tax on service sector for at least three months under this crisis.

He demanded the government to provide workers wages from social security funds as we are still paying salaries without any work under lockdown.

Nauman Kabir observed that on April 22, the State Bank of Pakistan had announced incentive package to help businesses avoid layoffs while directing banks to provide refinancing at zero percent.

The central bank had also announced relaxations in collateral requirements for small and medium enterprises and bank’s exposure limits. He added that earlier on April 10, the central bank had also announced an incentive scheme entitled Refinance Scheme for Payment of Wages and Salaries to the Workers. But the reality is that banks have refused to offer such loans, saying that they have no instructions from the govt in this regard.

Javed Iqbal said that social security and EOBI payments are being demanded by the departments as usual, as the government promise of workers salary funding via Social Security channel has not been implemented yet.

He said that utility companies including SNGPL and LESCO have neither provided any relief in tariff nor extending dates of bills payment, contrary to the commitment of the government.

Nauman Kabir stated that the actual position is that the government has announced relief for large industry by reducing interest rate, besides declaring Rs12,000 package for the poor sections of society but the SMEs, which are filers and a backbone of the economy, are still waiting for some relief.