Coronavirus: Top businessmen seek relief amid lockdown

Top businessmen of the country on Wednesday asked the government to resolve their liquidity crunch through immediate release of tax refunds and granting more concessions on principle and mark-up of outstanding loan.

The businessmen also demanded a resumption of transportation of goods in the presence of lockdown.

In a two-hour long video conference with Advisor to PM on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Advisor to PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood on Wednesday, the country’s top businessmen from Punjab complained that they were unable to transport their goods to Karachi if they possessed any demand for export order.

On the other side the businessmen hailing from Karachi asked the government that they should also be allowed to run their industrial units.

The meeting was also attended by Dr Waqar Massod Khan, Ali Jameel, Mian Mansha, Shahid Hussain, Shahzad Saleem,Bashir Ali Muhammad, Ali Habib, Aurangzeb, Tariq Saigol, Almas Hyder, Shahid Soorty, Fawad Anwer, Saqib Sherazi, Tariq Habib and senior officials of ministries of finance, commerce and Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR).

The businessmen also demanded provision of financing payroll and asked the government to manage currency as depreciation resulted into creating problems for managing their input costs

The businessmen presented a list that comprised of that their liquidity problems and that this issue be solved on immediate basis. They informed the government that they would not go for retrenchment and could provide one month salaries despite closure of their business but in case of increased timeframe for lockdown they required some kind of assistance while required more concession on principle and loan markup outstanding against them. The SBP, they said, took some measures but they required more keeping in view higher interest rate compared to regional comparable economies.

According to official announcement made by Finance Ministry after the meeting, the business community, shared with the adviser finance the current situation of their businesses and the issues they had been facing because of a global slump in business activities. It was briefed to the meeting that the daily wagers and SME sector is the worst hit during the crisis. The participants deliberated upon a feasible plan to distribute the amount earmarked in the prime minister’s relief package for the daily wagers and laborers (Rs200 billion) to support them in the scenario of lesser business activities in the country. The participants from the business community committed to take care of their daily wagers with the help of the government and promised to fulfill their social responsibilities in the hour of need.

The adviser directed that the mechanism for distribution of monetary assistance should ensure transparency and simplicity of procedures that the poor daily wagers may get relief without any complication.

The business representatives requested for the speedier refunds for providing them enough liquidity to manage their activities. The adviser directed the FBR chairperson to expedite the process of refunds so that the business community was provided with maximum relief. The FBR chairperson briefed that she was personally engaged with her team and business representatives to speed up the matters.

The adviser assured the business community of his full support during this difficult period and said that he hopes that the future is more promising for Pakistan’s export sector after the crisis is over.

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