Montgomery Road auto parts market suffers Rs 1.5 b loss in COVID-19 lockdown: Montgomery Road Lahore Amjum-e-Tajran president Shahid Nazir
M Jahangir Hayat
Lahore: The Auto Spare Parts market at the Montgomery Road Lahore has suffered an estimated over Rs 1.5 billion loss during the COVID-19 lockdown, while over 50 thousand businessmen and workers are sitting idle in their home without works. Although we are paying the workers despite there is no work is being done in the market considering it a moral obligation; however, the daily wagers are hit hard whom we could see on the market and allied roads.
These views were shared by Montgomery Road Lahore Amjum-e-Tajran president Shahid Nazir while talking to Daily The Business here the other day.
Following are some excerpts from his interview:
Q: How has the Lahore Auto Spare Parts been affected with the Covid-19 and the lockdown?
A: The Auto Spare Parts market at the Montgomery Road Lahore has suffered an estimated over Rs1.5 billion loss during the COVID-19 lockdown but the government has also lost billions of rupees revenue because 70 t0 80 percent auto spare parts business is linked with import while over 50 thousand workers are sitting idle in their home without works. Although we are paying the lot which is employed with us considering it as our moral obligation and for sure in the next month it will be hard to pay them, the daily wagers, on the other hand, are hit hard whom we could see on the market and allied roads. The pre-COVID-19 purchasing power of the people has already been reduced and the lockdown has added fuel to the fire. The mechanics that are associated with the market also have their families and this way as per a rough estimate 4 to 5 lakh individuals are facing the utmost hard time of their lives.
How would you be able to recover from these losses once the COVID-19 ends?
We have to stand up which is not an easy task. When the things will get better this is what we can say is a riddle for which currently no one knows the exact time period. The traders’ bodies and research and development departments are of the view that whole of 2020 may be a tough period for the trade and industry.
What should the government be doing for you in this regard?
The government should open the businesses either big or small but under certain SOPs and we are hopeful that the government will surely open the marketplaces. In this regard we are committed to act upon the guidance of the government which will enable us cope with the current deterioration of the business due to the COVID-19. We can assure that we will abide by the instruction as our people associated with Auto Spare Parts can be run with minimum staff strengthen.
What section of Auto Spare Parts’ business has been the most affected?
All most all section including importers, traders mechanics and their supportive staff, daily wagers, selling of auto parts, individuals concerning with the job of fitting and fixtures in the autos have been hit hard. We already have been facing tremendous decline in the business activities as due to the crisis the margins have declined unprecedentedly and it has become very had to survive after the COVID-19 crisis.
What will be the pattern of your working when the government will remove the lockdown?
Obviously, if we are allowed to open the markets will act upon the government’s SOPs and run the while fighting with the pandemic. We have already started cleaning our market, shops and reducing the seats in the show rooms and in the factories ensuring social distancing. Being the president of Montgomery Market I would suggest all the stakeholders to ensure cent percent implementation of the government SOPs. We have also planned to spray the metal and jewelry so there must not be any chance of infection by the products.
How are you going to meet your rental expenses of your outlets and showrooms?
Where there is the government is involved we have requested the government to waive the rents of our outlets and the showroom and to a great extent the government has cooperated with us but where there are the premises are owned by the private landowners we are discussing the matters and looking for the mid ways because for the private landlord are often depending upon the rental incomes and they cannot afford.
What is your take on the demurrages and detention changes free days amid the natural calamity like COVID-19 as most of the auto parts business depends upon the import business?
The government should have to take stern action against the private port terminal operators and the shipping lines who are defying government’s directive about extending free time upto May 30 to save the import business in the country. So far as the demurrages and detention charges are concerned the government has failed to implement its own orders as the private port terminal operators and the shipping lines have given no weightage to the directives of the government functionaries including Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Ministry of Industry and Production, chief collectors, collectors and are charging illegal demurrages and detention charges. The business community has run as cash crunch due to the stuckup of the payment and there is no liquidation of the stocks in the godownsas well. In such circumstances it is next to impossible to pay such the huge demurrages and detention charges. We are not able to get our consignments release due to the shortage of cash. All around the globe the importers have been extended relief of demurrages and detention and the Pakistani importers should also be facilitated in the extraordinary condition when the pandemic has affected all the walks of life. I myself have seven containers stuck up at the ports and I am unable to get them released due to the shortage of hot cash.