Business community hails PM’s public relief package on coronavirus

By Asad Cheema

ISLAMABAD: Business community Wednesday widely hailed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s financial public relief package worth around Rs1.2 trillion to ward off the negative impact of coronavirus on the country.
SAARC CCI President-designate and central chairman United Business Group (UBG) Iftikhar Ali Malik appreciated the economic package especially the relaxation given to the electricity consumers, using up to 300 units, to pay their utility bills in three monthly installments, allocation of Rs 200 billion funds for the labour community and Rs 100 billion tax refund to the industrial sector.
He further said the decision to reduce the prices of petroleum products by Rs 15 per liter, would provide a considerable relief to the common man.
He also appreciated the assurance of Prime Minister Imran Khan that that there should be no obstruction in supply of edible items and medicines and every possible step should be ensured on the administrative level to avert hoarding so that nobody might take undue advantage of the situation.
He also expressed hope that the objectives of the Economic Relief and Stimulus package would be attained and this would be succeeded to provide relief to vulnerable segments, to prevent job losses, encourage smooth supply of essential goods at reasonable prices, support businesses and stimulate the economy.
Iftikhar Malik said the State Bank of Pakistan also reduced its main policy rate by 150 basis points to 11pc. He, however, maintained that the 150bps rate cut announced by SBP was not enough for under the prevalent lockdown-like situation, adding that the industry was expecting a massive reduction in interest rate.
‘The interest rate should below 10pc and the payment of utility bills need to be deferred for the industry.’
He said that the mechanism that would be adopted by the Ministry of Finance for speedy implementation of the relief package would determine the outcome of the government’s policies.
He also suggested the government to tackle the most essential issues of ensuring ease of doing business, reducing the cost of doing business, accelerating growth, inducing investment, concentrating on human skills, tapping resources, generating employment, and deconstructing the unproductive tax system which imposes high taxes, but yields low revenues.
Iftikhar Malik also suggested the government that marriage halls may be used as quarantine centers due to shortage of hospitals. In return, government should give 3-year tax holiday to the owners of marriage halls.
He also urged the government to implement same electricity tariff for all industries. He said that government has given a tariff of 0.75 per cent to the textile sector. Same tariff should be given to all industries to bring down their industrial input cost.