ISLAMABAD                  -                The federal government on Tuesday has notified ban on exports of onions and personal protective equipment due to increase in its demand with a spike in coronavirus cases in Pakistan. The ministry of commerce has made the decision through two notifications—SRO 238 and SRO 239—regarding imposition of ban on exports of personal protective equipment and onions.

According to a notification the government has imposed ban on onions exports. “This ban shall laps on the 31st day of May, 2020,” the SRO stated. Minister for National Food Security and Research Khusro Bakhtiar on Monday said that they have enough onion production to cater for local demand and they have imposed ban on the export of onion. The government wanted to control the prices of onions in the country.

Meanwhile, the other SRO explained the ban on export of personal protective equipment. The exports of hand sanitizers, surgical masks, N 95 masks, face shields, disposable gloves, disposable gowns, shoe cover, goggles, biohazard bags and tyvek suits banned. The government has taken the decision due to increase in demand of personal protective equipment with a spike in coronavirus cases in Pakistan and shortages in supply of these items. “This ban shall lapse on the completion of the process of assessment of baseline requirement of the country and stockpiling to be notified by the Government,” the ministry of commerce said in SRO.

Earlier, last week, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has exempted import of 61 diagnostic support and personal protective equipment (PPEs) from all duties and taxes for a period of three months in order to reduce the rising prices in the domestic market. The government has exempted import of PPEs – suits, masks, gloves, goggles and head covers – from customs duty, regulatory duty, additional customs duty, sales tax and withholding tax. As per notifications, the government withdrew duties and taxes on import of powdered air purifying respirators, nitrile gloves, latex gloves, goggles, face shields, gum boots, mackintosh bed sheets, surgical masks, multimode ventilator with air compressor, vital sign monitor with 21BP, ICU-motorised bed with side cabinet and over bed table, syringe infusion pump, infusion pump and electric suction machine.

Exporters, chemical process industry allowed to operate in a systematic manner

Despite lockdown in different provinces of the country, the government has allowed the exporters and chemical process industry to operate in a systematic manner.

Punjab and Sindh provinces had announced lockdown. The country’s exports have also suffered due to the decisions of lockdown in different provinces of the country. The exporters have approached ministry of commerce for expressing their reservations.

However, Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Textile Abdul Razak Dawood has approached Punjab and Sindh provinces for resolving the issues of exporters.

“I have spoken to the Chief Secretary of Punjab. He has allowed exporters & chemical process industry to operate another 5 days to close in a systematic manner.

Those who have pending export orders may continue beyond 5 days. They have to communicate with the commissioners of their respective divisions. Also, only necessary employees should be engaged & in the all necessary COVID-19 protections & precautions must be ensured,” the Adviser said on his social media account.

Meanwhile, Abdul Razak Dawood has also contacted Sindh leadership for resolving the issues. “I have spoken to the Chief Minister Sindh, and he has allowed exporters with balance orders to operate their factories,” he said and added that exporters would inform departments of industry and labour (Sindh Govt) and would bring only essential workers. “Those that come must properly be examined & necessary procedures followed against covid19,” the Adviser added.