KARACHI: After the announcement of a special package for the construction sector by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the steel industry has asked the prime minister to allow him to continue operations because without steel, the construction segment will not be able to move forward.
Secretary General of the Pakistan Association of Major Steel Producers Syed Wajid Bukhari praised the announcement, saying the stimulus would open up employment opportunities for the country’s workforce.
“It goes without saying that steel is the backbone of the construction industry. We urge the government to immediately open the steel sector, especially all factories which have labor colonies or housing arrangements for their workforce within their factory location, “he added.
The official pointed out that many steel companies have arrangements for their employees around the plant and that 70-80% of the industry can function through these employees in line with the safety measures needed to combat Covid-19.
“In our view that is well considered, unless the government allows the steel sector to start production, it is not possible for the construction sector to take on its projects.”
Bukhari said the delay in opening the steel plant to start production could cause delays in all government initiatives to revive the construction sector, adding that the government had allowed the cement sector to resume operations. The official lamented that the sector had already suffered and faced further decline when the rupee depreciated.
“Rupees have lost nearly 40% of their value to the dollar in the past year, and another blow came to the steel sector when interest rates skyrocketed to one of its historic peaks.” He said the withdrawal of the 2007 Special Procedure Regulations for the steel sector in the previous budget also came as a blow, which doubled taxes to around 17%.
Published in The Express Tribune, 7 Aprilth, 2020.
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