LAHORE-The Pakistan Industrial and Traders Associations Front, while announcing full support to the traders, has appealed to the government to extend permission to the business community to run their businesses 24/7 till Eid-ul-Azha, reopening of all markets with strict implementation of the government SOPs to avoid spread of coronavirus.

PIAF chairman Mian Nauman Kabir, in a joint statement with senior vice chairman Nasir Hameed and vice chairman Javed Siddiqi, shown his serious concern over the Punjab government’s sudden decision of lockdown, saying it is totally unilateral and unexpected move, which was taken without consultation of business community.

It was better for the government to take the real stakeholders onboard before finalizing any plan of market closure especially on Eid days, he stated. Mian Nauman Kabir said that partial implementation of SOPs was just due to the limited market hours, which remained closed for two days in a week.

He said that the Eid was an important event for the business community when business liabilities were paid off along with benefits to hundreds of thousands of people attached to different operations of the economic activities; hence, all economic areas should be functioning smoothly. Mian Nauman Kabir also appreciated the government for taking the immediate measure to control the outbreak in the country. At the same time, instead of creating an environment of fear and stress, we must recognize the symptoms and exercise as many precautions as possible, he suggested. 

He observed that COVID-19 was diagnosed in China in Jan 2020 and till now no vaccine was available to treat the patients, and preparing a vaccine might take a long time, therefore; it was very important to get adapted to the situation while recognizing all precautionary measures such as washing hands very often, wearing face masks, and avoiding unnecessary contact with everyone, etc instead of shutting the businesses altogether.

He pleaded that the opening of markets would not only reduce the financial depressions but also progress the economic activities in the country. Therefore, the business community should be allowed to run businesses 24/7 till Eid with compliance of standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Senior vice chairman Nasir Hameed said that current economic situation could not afford to keep the businesses shut for longer period, as opening of the businesses on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha with compliance of SOPs would help to boost the country’s economy.

He also appealed the traders, industrialists and the general public to take all precautionary measures during the Eid-ul-Azha and fully comply with the instructions issued by the Deputy Commissioner in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. He said that traders and industrialists had suffered huge losses due to the pandemic, lockdown and it will take time to recover from this situation. However, he said that by the grace of Allah Almighty, the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic had significantly decreased, but there was possibility that the deadly virus could spread again on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha and we have to be careful.

Vice chairman Javed Siddiqi urged the government to allow opening of all kinds of businesses completely especially on Eid days as our economy could not afford further losses by keeping businesses closed, as the Covid-19 had destroyed businesses, reduced tax collection and increased inflation and unemployment manifold.

He assured that the traders would ensure implementation of safety measures and standard operating procedures (SOPs), announced by the government to avoid spread of coronavirus. He also appealed to masses to follow the SOPs as controlling the spread of COVID-19 was a responsibility of all segments of society.

He said that the economy was expected to improve with the return of businesses to normal routine but it was closed again without any consultation of trade bodies.