Traders Urge Government to Extend Market Hours

In recent news, the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), as well as the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), have demanded that the government extend business hours during the holy month of Ramadan. 

The two have urged the relevant authorities to review the decision made, which dictates that businesses will be shut down by 6pm during the month. 

Muhammad Nasir Mirza, the President of RCCI, stated that the sales volume for businesses significantly increases in Ramadan. People come for Eid shopping and thus, by limiting business hours, the government is only going to be hurting business activities. 

He observed how the business community in Pakistan has suffered in light of the coronavirus pandemic. According to him, limiting the number of business hours is bound to create chaos in the markets as people rush to do their shopping. In turn, he added, the virus will spread even further. 

Mirza proposed that the number of hours allowed for businesses to operate be extended to 11pm in Ramadan. He went on to say that business representative bodies, along with chambers of commerce, should be asked to contribute to these matters. 

The President further highlighted how the RCCI has always been taken into consideration by the government. It has advised relevant authorities to ensure consulting with stakeholders before coming to a final decision related to any trade policy. 

Mirza stated that it is the responsibility of the government to take appropriate measures to implement standard operational procedures (SOPs) in the market. He urged authorities to go over the matter once again to allow businesses to operate for a longer period of time and cut back on their losses. 

He proposed that steps should be taken to ensure that there is no rush at or outside business premises. Additionally, social distancing guidelines should be followed, and hand sanitizers should be carried at all times. 

The President asserted how the RCCI is running a campaign on social media to raise awareness on the importance of wearing masks. It also encouraged trade bodies and their members to strictly adhere to the SOPs, as given by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC). 

Meanwhile, the President of the ICCI, Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan, said that the business community in the country is unhappy with the decision of the NCOC to shut down businesses by 6pm. According to him, the government needs to address the issue to ensure that businesses do not suffer additional losses due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Khan urged the government to reconsider the decision made and asked that business hours be extended until midnight in the month of Ramadan. Just like Mirza, he too suggested that before making such an impactful decision, the key trade bodies and chambers of commerce should be consulted. 

Furthermore, the President expressed his displeasure at the NCOC taking unilateral decisions on behalf of the entire business community. Decisions like these, he stated, always end up having detrimental consequences for the economy, as well as business.