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Shabaan 16, 1441 A.H.
April 10, 2020

Draft of Sindh COVID-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance not acceptable: Siraj Teli, Agha Shahab
CM urged to take business & Industrial community into confidence prior to finalizing any ordinance

KARACHI: Chairman Businessmen Group (BMG) Siraj Kassam Teli and President Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan have said that the draft of Sindh COVID-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance prepared by Sindh Government is not acceptable hence, we urge Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah to take the business & industrial community into confidence prior to finalizing any such ordinance.

In a statement issued, Chairman BMG and President KCCI pointed out that the ordinance will make it lawfully binding upon the employers in the province not to lay off or terminate the services of any of their employees during the shutdown of their business units due to the lockdown. The employees will be considered as being on paid leave and the draft ordinance ensures payment of salaries to such employees who would remain on paid leave during the closure of their offices. “The business & industrial community is also not willing to expel their workforce but they have been facing severe liquidity crunch due to suspension of business activities and finding it really hard to bear salaries payable for the idle workers when no revenue is being generated hence, the government will have come forward to share the burden.”

They said that the business & industrial community, which is already providing cash and food to the needy Karachiites on humanitarian grounds, somehow sustained the entire burden of wages and salaries payable for the month of March but they will not be able to do so next month when salaries payable for April become due. Hence, a Special Relief Package has to be announced and made part of the Ordinance in which either the entire cost of salaries/ wages has to be borne by the government or a mechanism has to be adopted for a period of at least two to three months in which the aggregate amount of salaries payable by businesses and industries should be fragmented into three equal portions, of which the first portion should be paid by the relevant industrialist and second portion must be contributed by the government while the last portion has to be borne by the employees.“This Special Relief Package is the need of the hour which would certainly enable the private sector to deal with the extraordinary situation, bear the extra losses, avoid lay-offs and rescue many industrial units from becoming sick or bankrupt”, they added.They further noted that although it is mentioned in the draft ordinance that the government may provide exemption in the provincial taxes, duties, fees, cess, levies, and charges in a manner as notified by the government but the Relief Ordinance must guarantee that the Sindh Revenue Board (SRB) will be barred from collecting all types of taxes for a period of at least six months. They further suggested that the funds being collected by the Employees Old Age Benefit Institution (EOBI) and Sindh Employees Social Security Institution (SESSI) for registered workers can be utilized to support these workers who are already registered with them.“What will be happening to those small traders and shopkeepers who hardly have two to three workers employed and how could they pay salaries to workers when all such shops and businesses remain completely closed? We haven’t heard much about any relief to these shopkeepers and traders which is really worrisome and requires equal attention”, they added.Siraj Teli and Agha Shahab stated that the business and industrial community fully supports all the initiatives taken by the government to completely eradicate COVID-19 and provide relief but at the same time, the government will have to extend the desperately needed helping hand to the business & industrial community with a view to reduce the excessive burden on the shoulders of industries and enable them to survive in the ongoing extraordinary situation.