Country cannot afford to go back to lockdown again: Mian Nauman
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The Pakistan Industrial and Traders Association Front (PIAF) Chairman Mian Nauman Kabir Friday rejected the option of imposing another lockdown in the country, saying the country could not afford to go back to lockdown and also urged the trade and industry to follow the government’s SOPs for curbing the spread of deadly coronavirus.
Mian Nauman Kabir, in a joint statement with vice chairman Javed Siddiqi, observed that the lockdowns had created havoc in the whole world as the nations which were giving loans had themselves come under debts. We were already facing a financial crunch due to the huge burden of debts. So, lockdown is not a good option, he added.
He asked the government to take concrete steps to attract foreign investment, saving the livelihood of millions of workers associated with various sectors, as foreign investment in Pakistan’s long-term projects like power plants and oil and gas exploration.
Mian Nauman Kabir observed that the government will have to make a visible reduction in taxes in the budget to help revive the businesses, which are near to bankruptcies owing to slowdown amidst coronavirus.
According to data, Pakistan’s foreign direct investment dropped 30 percent to $1.3 billion in the eight months of the current fiscal year, as FDI stood at $1.85 billion in the same period of the last fiscal year. The country drew $155.1 million in FDI in February, down 44 percent from a year earlier. The direct investment inflows to the country declined 20 percent on a month-on-month basis in February.
He said that like the domestic industry Covid-19 crisis has also forced the global investors to put their new investment plans on hold, while no visible improvement in employment is seen in the country. The small and medium industries (SMEs) -the main providers of jobs are still struggling because of a lack of funds and demand.
Mian Nauman Kabir said that the global lockdowns imposed to contain the virus badly impacted economic activities, businesses, people’s income and their purchasing power. As a result, the demand for many products, except for food and pharmaceuticals, dropped sharply.
PIAF vice chairman Javed Siddiqi said that with a view to save the economy from the impacts of the slowdown due to the COVID-19 the government should announce special incentives for a cash-strapped SMEs, which represents more than 90 percent of around 3.2 million business enterprises in Pakistan, contributing 40 percent to the GDP, employing more than 80 percent of non-agricultural workforce, and generating 25 percent of export earnings.
He expressed dissatisfaction over the financial packages by the government for industry to deal with the financial crunch, called for a significant cut in import duties and waiver of sales tax, income tax and additional income taxes, for the smooth running of trade and industry.