COVID-19 lockdown: SMEs, markets be allowed to work under SOPs to avoid joblessness: FEBR

Our Special Correspondent

LAHORE: Local markets and small & medium industries (SMEs) should be
allowed to open for a specific time under strict SOPs enabling money
to circulate in the economy saving millions of workers from getting
jobless amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

Friends of Economic & Business Reforms (FEBR) President Kashif Anwar
proposed this in a letters, written to Federal Industries & Production
Minister Hammad Azhar and Punjab Industries & Commerce Minister Mian
Aslam Iqbal urging them to allow SMEs and markets to get open, after
they ensure implementation of all preventive measures, as COVID-19
crisis has caused severe economic destruction. Small-scale businesses
and markets are going through a financial crunch and do not even have
money to pay their employees, he added.
“This is the time that we all have to work on individual basis and
fulfill our responsibilities for a collective struggle for the
betterment of our people, saving them not only from the pandemic
effects of COVID-19 but also from financial, psychological and social
threats, which have not yet matured.”
Kashif Anwar, in the letter, proposed that in order to reduce the traffic of
customers in the wholesale markets, shopkeepers should be asked to
book orders of their products online, establishing a culture of online
or virtual trade.
It will also be beneficial for the State in terms of revenue
generation documentation, he added.
He asked the government to defer the payment of utility bills for the
month of March, April and May 2020. Moreover, the workers whose
contribution is paid under the head of Social Security, EOBI or
Education Cess their monthly wages for these three months should be
paid by the government and transferred to their respective bank
accounts to ensure transparency.
He added that school fees of the children of registered employees not
be charged by the schools and paid by the government directly to
schools.
He demanded that 50% discount may be given on all other children
school fee which are not registered with any of the department.
“The retailers who submit their Income Tax Returns, the respective
portion of monthly salary for these months should be transferred to
the employee bank account and paid by the Government. SME sector which
is the backbone of our economy and is a source of employment
generation must be given same importance as of export sector and also
given loan from banks at 6%.”
As the premises of tenants are closed by the order of the State, the
rent should be paid by the government, while all existing loans in any
shape taken from any bank by SMEs may be rescheduled at 6% mark up
till June 2021, he added.
Regarding unregistered daily wagers, he said, their complete profile
should be provided by the head of the concerned market and monthly
assistance package by the State be transferred to them through easy
paisa.
He said that SMEs and daily workers have severely been affected due to
pandemic COVID-19 partial opening of lockdown will help economy to
move forward to a great extent.

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