ISLAMABAD                  -             Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) has urged the government to reduce policy interest rate to 5 percent in order to save businesses from the negative impact of coronavirus. In a statement, President ICCI, Muhammad Ahmed Waheed said that due to spread of coronavirus, all shopping malls and business centers are being closed down in major cities due to which business activities are suffering badly.

He said that the best option for the government to provide relief to businesses is to cut interest rate to 5 percent to cope with the situation emerging after coronavirus. Waheed said that imported raw material of many industrial units of millions of rupees is stuck up at Karachi port as transport is not available due to lock down.

He said that industrialists have paid duties of imported raw material, but it has become difficult for them to pay mark up of banks due to halt in money circulation. “ In these circumstances, government should cut down interest rate to 5 percent and allow business community to pay reduced mark up in installments so that they could survive in these tough times”, he added.

He said that cutting down interest rate to 5 percent will revive business activities and encourage investment in the country. He said that due to impact of coronavirus, US, Canada, UK, China and many other countries have made drastic cut in interest rates, but SBP has reduced policy interest rate by only 75 basis points which is very negligible.

ICCI President further said that till the time the coronavirus issue would be tackled, the government should defer receipt of electricity and gas bills and banks mark up from the businesses so that they could be able to survive in these difficult times.

He said that business community is standing with the government in this crisis situation and will not allow increase in the prices of food items so that people may not face any problems on this account.

He said that in cooperation with the business community of Islamabad, a fund is being created to provide necessary relief to the labor class and daily wagers so that they could be provided necessary support in this difficult situation.

ICCI Senior Vice President Tahir Abbasi and Vice President Saif ur Rehman said that oil prices in international market have come down to historical low level.