LAHORE-The Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PRGMEA) has urged the government to exempt the export-oriented units in Punjab from lockdown restrictions on Saturdays too, besides allowing them to work in two shifts to complete their export orders under full SOPs.

In a joint statement issued here, PRGMEA regional chairman Sohail A. Sheikh and chief coordinator Ijaz A. Khokhar observed that the export-oriented units are fully conscientious of Covid-19 and are strictly following the standard operating procedures of the government. He said that the implementation of the social distancing during industrial operations can be observed in a better way in two shifts without reducing the size of the workforce to avoid massive unemployment in this crucial time.

They said that exporters are highly perturbed and want to complete their pending export orders. The enhanced working days will allow them to complete export consignments and send shipments to avoid colossal financial losses.

Sohail A. Sheikh said that the government has taken an appreciable step by allowing operations to the export-oriented industries and this relief should be extended also on Saturdays, besides allowing working at least in two shifts, as the foreign exchange earning industry may suffer up to 30 per cent dent in export in present circumstances.

“The export industry is the backbone of the economy and playing a great role in providing employment and revenue”, he said and added that allowing two shifts and enhancing working days would be a great favor that would enable them to face the challenges posed by coronavirus.

PRGMEA regional chairman said the closure of industries and economic activities is not a solution to stop the spread of coronavirus, as the more important is to take protective and precautionary measures in operating businesses to ensure the safety of people and continuity of businesses.

Chief coordinator Ijaz A. Khokhar stressed upon the need for collective efforts and wisdom to mitigate the challenges and growth of export industry for sustainable socio-economic development. He called for joint effort for support and growth of the industry to make Pakistan safe, productive and prosperous country.

Our focus is a safe and protected work environment for better productivity and protection of workers, he added.

Ijaz A. Khokhar said the industries are complying with full SOPs in operating their businesses, adding workers are our assets and their safety is not only our responsibility but equally important for growth of our industry, he observed.

He said country is facing an unprecedented and difficult times never experienced before. Therefore, we need not to panic but face the crises and find out opportunities and learn from the experience of other successful countries as how they survived with their proactive approach during pandemic.

Ijaz A. Khokhar said that the COVID-19 pandemic has been disastrous for the export-oriented industry in Pakistan. The global economic slowdown due to corona pandemic and the financial losses to export industries are multiplying every day. Export oriented industry is facing a double whammy of Covid-19 on both demand and supply.

With a view to ensure smooth running of business operations of export-oriented industry and to save the economy from the impact of slowdown in the world economy due to COVID-19; PRGMEA request the government to please consider its recommendations to save the industry from a devastating crisis.