FAISALABAD. Government is making all out efforts to control the economic losses incurred by our fragile economy in the wake of Corona Lockdown, said Mr. Abdul Razzak Dawood, Advisor to PM on Commerce, Textile and Investment.
Talking to the office bearers of the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry through a video conference, he discussed in detail the problems confronted by the business community and impediments in the speedy disbursement of electricity bills and payment of salaries and wages of the employees under SBP’s Refinance scheme . He told that SBP had issued Circular regarding Refinance scheme for the payment of wages and salaries to the SME units who will not lay-off their workers during lockdown. He said that this circular was issued on April 5, 2020 but it has some discrepancy due to which various sectors could not avail this facility. He asked President FCCI to propose necessary amendments in this circular so that maximum sectors could avail from this scheme.
Commenting on a proposal put forth by the President FCCI regarding appointment of honorary commercial counselors in uncovered countries which have huge potential for Pakistani export, the Advisor to PM agreed in principal to appoint Honorary Commercial Counselors from business community and asked President FCCI to nominate country-wise exporters who could be appointed as honorary counselors.
Regarding payment of three month electricity bills, Razzak Dawood said that he will discuss this issue with the relevant quarters.
Earlier Rana Sikandar Azam Khan, President FCCI said that Government had announced a scheme to pay the electricity bills of three months for the SME sector. He lamented that instead of facilitating the disturbed industrial and commercial units, the FESCO has not only added late surcharge in their bills but their connections are also being severed. Among these units include textile and Printing sector, Sizing and Power looms etc.
Regarding Refinance Scheme of SBP to pay the wages and salaries to the employees of the SME sector in order to retain their workforce during lockdown period, he said that no practical development has been witnessed in this scheme. Now some banks are refusing their requests on the plea that they could pay salaries only to the staff that was getting it through their bank accounts. He said that SBP should issue clear direction to the commercial banks to extend this facility of concessional loans at the earliest without creating any unnecessary hurdles. He further told that as the business activities remained zero due to unprecedented lockdown, hence the interest rate on these loans should also be reduced to zero.
Rana Sikandar said that Ministry of Commerce should hammer out an aggressive export policy to enhance exports during post-corona period. He mentioned South America as a huge potential market and said that many countries in this block had no Pakistan trade sections. He said that Government should appoint committed and dedicated Pakistani exporters as honorary counselors who are already dealing with these countries so that they could exploit their energies and good offices to almost double the Pakistani export without adding any financial burden on the national kitty. “Similarly, Pakistan should also focus on the untapped African markets”, he added.
During this video link, Vice President Bilal Waheed Sheikh, Rana Ikram ullah, Saeed Iqbal, and Engineer Babar Shahzad were also present.