close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
August 5, 2020

Govt mulls easing lockdown curbs on hotels, marriage halls

Business

August 5, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The government has stepped up efforts to further ease lockdown on social and economic activities, a minister said on Tuesday, and that could pave the way for restart of tourism sector, restaurants and marriage halls shut down for the last four months.

Minister of Industries and Production Hammad Azhar said the government started consultations with provinces at the National Command and Operation Centre. The government is “reviewing and (mulling) possible revision of sectors on negative list of opening up,” Azhar said in a tweet.

“These include tourism, restaurant, marriage halls, parks etc.,” he said. The government imposed lockdown in late March after the coronavirus pandemic entered Pakistan – somehow late compared to other parts of the world. Since the cases of coronavirus have been showing downtrend, businesses are starting uptrend towards normalcy.

The minister said the permission to open would be subject to standard of procedures (SOPs). “We have collected the proposals and have asked provinces to finalise SOPs and enforcement methods,” he said. “The proposals will now be taken to the National Coordination Committee headed by the Prime Minister to take final decisions in this regard within a few days.”

In June, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the reopening of tourism industry, but the decision was tightly limited to aviation sector with hotels in various parts of the sightseeing northern parts under lockdown still inaccessible to tourists.

Azhar said the government is also reviewing the timing that markets and industries are allowed to operate. Restaurants and recreational industries are facing immense losses and turning up massive layoffs in informal sector due to four-month long lockdown.

The lockdown adversely hurt already ailing economy that was reeling under stabilization program. The growth faltered to 3.3 percent in 2018/19 from 5.5 percent a year earlier. It was further down to 0.4 percent in the last fiscal year.

Alone Pakistan’s hotel industry has lost over Rs100 million in just one month of February, said an official report by the National Tourism Coordination Board. Hotel booking dropped from 95 percent to 40 percent in January-March.

Pakistan’s initial economic losses in different sectors of the country’s economy have been estimated at Rs1.3 trillion. These losses are going to be incurred on account of drop in the GDP growth because of reduction in services sector, including airline business and others, FBR’s revenue loss, massive decline in imports, exports, reduction in remittances, disruption in food supplies and other fronts. However, the preliminary assessment of losses done by the Asian Development Bank and shared with Pakistani authorities stood at $5 billion.