LAHORE         -          Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has stressed the need for devising a workable plan to allow business activities in the vicinity of Gaddafi Stadium during cricket matches.

“Closure of major markets in the name of security is a major loss for the business community and daily wagers. One day closure of liberty and other markets in the close vicinity of Gaddafi Stadium causes a loss of Rs21 billion. Government should devise a plan to avoid loss of billions to the business community”, said LCCI President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh while addressing a press conference on Tuesday.

Flanked by LCCI Vice President Mian Zahid Jawaid Ahmad, former presidents Bashir A Baksh and Sohail Lashari, he said that both cricket and business activities have equal importance and there was need to address the prevailing issue.

“Revival of international cricket and holding of all PSL matches in Pakistan is a major development. It will highlight the soft image of the country. But trade and economic activities have equal importance. Government should make a plan in consultation with the stakeholders to hold the sports event without affecting the trade and economic activities”, Irfan Iqbal sheikh said, adding, sports revival was an ample proof of the reality that Pakistan was a peaceful and safest country. He said that the LCCI and the business community fully supported efforts of the government aimed at highlighting the soft image of Pakistan. “But it is also important that business activities should not be damaged. During cricket matches in recent past, Liberty and other markets and restaurants adjacent to Gaddafi Stadium were closed, which resulted in significant loss of business”, he said.

“Few PSL matches are scheduled to be held in Gaddafi Stadium during the next month. If the markets are closed even during those matches, the consequences will be worse. The business community and those earning daily wages will face further financial losses. We are ready to cooperate with the government to ensure all necessary security measures. But adjacent markets and restaurants should not be closed as it will create the impression that security conditions are not normal”, he said. He suggested construction of a state-of-the-art luxurious hotel within the premises of Gaddafi Stadium for the guest cricket teams. “It is the only solution to the prevailing problems”, he said.