Pakistan’s industry-body ICCI has appealed the government to defer utility bills for a few months in wake of the COVID-19 shutdown. The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) said many Pakistani industries are struggling to survive and are at the brink of closure due to the economic impact of the virus outbreak.
The government of Pakistan announced a PKR200bn stimulus package on Tuesday. Pakistan released PKR100bn as tax refunds and deferred interest payments for select industries, especially export-based units. Prime Minister Imran Khan also allocated PKR100mn package to small and medium enterprises and agriculture sectors. According to ICCI, the package does not reach out to many industries. ICCI has requested a bailout package, especially for the steel industry, which is already under a lot of duress due to high energy costs and weakening of the Pakistani Rupee against the US dollar.
ICCI has asked the government to allow businesses to defer monthly payment of utility bills to help survive through this crisis. Manufacturing activities have almost stopped amid the shut down and finished goods inventories have piled up on weak consumer demand.
Industries in Pakistan are finding it hard to meet their operational expenses and the deferment of utility bills for a few months could provide some relief, said an ICCI statement. High energy costs are among the major factors impacting the profitability of industries in Pakistan.