Business leaders oppose strict lockdown restrictions in Karachi

FPCCI chief says restrictions in Karachi will hurt business activities. Says vaccination is the only solution to curb COVID-19 spread. Zubair Motiwala says businesses strongly oppose lockdown strategy to deal with pandemic.

Business leaders oppose strict lockdown restrictions in Karachi

KARACHI: The businessmen community has opposed the strict lockdown restrictions in the metropolis and has advised the authorities to forcefully vaccinate the public to curb the fourth coronavirus wave.

The reaction from traders and industrialists came after the Sindh government announced a nine-day lockdown in the province with a special focus on Karachi after a sharp increase in the COVID-19 cases reported from the port city.

According to a  report published Saturday, officials of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) and Karachi Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said it was impossible for them to pay salaries to workers due to the closure of industries and businesses.

"Pakistan's economic hub Karachi should not be completely locked down in the larger national interest," President FPCCI Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo was quoted as saying in a statement.

"The only solution out of the current situation, without causing any harm to businesses and employment opportunities, is to allow business and economic activities under strict compliance of SOPs and mandatory vaccination of the workforce."

He said restaurants should be allowed to continue 24 hours takeaway and delivery services while all grocery stores in the province should also be allowed to operate seven days a week till 8pm to facilitate the public.

"If industries and businesses remain under restrictions, we will not be able to pay salaries," he added.

The FPCCI chief asked the government to review the strict measures which are hurting the businesses.

Meanwhile, Chairman Businessmen Group Zubair Motiwala said businesses strongly opposed the lockdown strategy to deal with the pandemic, as the only workable solution for minimising the number of COVID cases is to forcefully get people vaccinated and ensure strict implementation of SOPs.

Motiwala stressed that the government should carry out an aggressive vaccination campaign and take assistance from the law enforcement agencies if needed to compel the masses to get vaccinated at the earliest.

Motiwala, who attended the provincial coronavirus taskforce meeting at CM House on Friday, said the provincial government has agreed that the delivery service of restaurants should continue, while export-oriented industries and all their allied industries should also continue to operate.

"Small traders and shopkeepers have been facing a lot of problems due to lockdowns and limited business hours, and many businesses are on the verge of total collapse," he said.

"Hence, the government should try its best to minimise the grievances of shopkeepers and the public."The BMG chairman said perhaps it is time the government should think about extending monetary help to citizens, especially small shopkeepers, who are now in net debt position, and are paying rents to owners of their business premises.

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