ISLAMABAD-The business community, in a meeting at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), has called upon the government to discard the practice of sealing businesses for any violations of SOPs and give them warnings along with imposition of small fines as sealing businesses was affecting their credibility and was not the right solution to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic. 

They said that sealing of businesses would ultimately hurt the already weak economy and create more problems for the future growth of the country.

Chairing the meeting, Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan, president Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said that business community have to spent years for building the reputation and goodwill of a business, but normally FBR, local administration and other government departments tended to seal businesses on small violations, which badly damaged their reputation and caused great financial losses to them. He said that the sealed businesses have to suffer for a long time and struggle hard to restore their prestige in the local community, which puts extra financial burden on them. 

He said that instead of sealing businesses, government departments should prefer giving warnings and imposing small fines on them for any violations, which would save businesses from unnecessary losses and also generate revenue for the government.

ICCI president said that government machinery should ensure strong enforcement of SOPs to control the outbreak of Covid-19 instead of sealing businesses. He said that the economy of Pakistan has already suffered huge losses due to lengthy lockdowns during Covid-19 pandemic last year and it could not afford further closure of businesses as shutting down business activities would plunge the economy into deep troubles. 

He emphasized that the government should go extra miles to save the businesses from any further problems in order to keep the wheel of the economy in running mode. He said that businesses in smart lockdown areas should be allowed to remain open with implementation of SOPs.

Ms Fatma Azim, Senior Vice President, and Abdul Rehman Khan, Vice President ICCI, said that recently FBR had sealed the office of a telecom company due to tax issues, but it has sent a very negative message to the potential investors. 

They said that Pakistan needed to promote maximum local and foreign investment to boost industrialization and strengthen the economy, but sealing of businesses on any violations would thwart such efforts of the government. 

They stressed that the government should discard the practice of sealing businesses and should warn them before imposing fines for any violations in the larger economic interests of the country.