ISLAMABAD                 -            The government has exempted the local Non Government Organizations (NGOs) from signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Economic Affairs Division (EAD) in efforts to fight against COVID-19. The government has given exemption in pursuance of powers conferred under clause-11 of policy for Regulation of Organizations receiving foreign contributions 2013. “The government of Pakistan is pleased to exempt local NGOs, as exhibited on the website, from signing of MoU, with EAD to utilize foreign economic assistance, for a period not exceeding six (06) months, with immediate effect,” the notification stated, which was issued by Economic Affairs Division on Thursday. The government has given exemptions to those NGOs who have applied to EAD for signing of MOU. Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar has given approval in this regard. Meanwhile, the business community has demanded of the government for deferring receipt of utility bills for few months amid prevailing COVID-19. The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) called upon the government to defer the receipt of utility bills from business community for few months in order to save the businesses from default. It further said that businesses were struggling for survival in the prevailing conditions and government should allow them to pay monthly utility bills in three installments after the expiry of deferment period.

Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Muhammad Ahmed Waheed said that due to coronavirus issue, business activities have almost come to a halt and businesses were facing threat of closure. He said that manufacturing activities have reached shut down level and manufactured goods were waiting for buyers with no good prospect in near future. He said in these circumstances, it has become difficult for businesses to meet their day-to-day expenses and pay the wages to idle labor. He said deferring the receipt of utility bills from businesses for few months would provide them some relief. ICCI President said that energy cost in Pakistan was very high that has pushed up the cost of doing business manifold. This situation has made it difficult for industry to remain competitive and meet domestic & international orders.

He said that high energy cost has pushed many businesses towards default. He said that government has announced a stimulus packages for industry, but it might not save many industrial units. He appealed to the Prime Minister Imran Khan to also announce a bailout package, especially for steel industry to save it from destruction. He said that business community was standing with the government in this difficult time and would contribute to save the labor class from unemployment.