Pakistan News

No progress on issue of market timings

No progress on issue of market timings

ISLAMABAD: While the 40 traders arrested by police on Saturday night, for not closing their shops at the stipulated time, were released by the police on Sunday morning, the issue of closing time could not be settled.

The traders would be holding a meeting on Monday (today) to finalise their future strategy regarding the issue. On April 8, the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCE) chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced a new energy conservation plan for the capital stipulating that shops would be closed at 8pm.

While shop owners rejected the government’s decision almost immediately, the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) magistrates began visiting the markets to ensure that the decision has been implemented.

A shutter-down strike was observed to protest the decision, by the traders on April 28 and most shops and restaurants in the capital remained shut all day.

On Saturday, May 2, PML-N MNA Tariq Fazal Chaudhry held a press conference and announced that the government is willing to allow a one-hour extension in the closing time. However, traders rejected this decision and demanded that the markets should be allowed to remain open until 10pm and restaurants until midnight.

Aabpara Traders Welfare Association Malik Zaheer told Dawn that MNA Tariq Fazal Chaudhry had promised to contact higher authorities and ensure that no action was taken against the traders by the police or the district administration.

“However, the police arrested 40 traders last night from Aabpara, Jinnah Super Market, F-10 Markaz and Sitara Market for not closing their shops at the stipulated time,” he said.

Mr Zaheer said traders in various parts of the capital protested the arrests and a large number of traders gathered in Aabpara.

“We stayed in Aabpara until 2am after which we decided to hold citywide protests on Sunday but by morning the police released the traders,” he said.

He said that while the traders were released, a case was registered against them under the shop security law.

“We will hold a meeting on Monday (today) to devise a strategy on the issue,” he said.

Super Market Traders Welfare Association President Sarfraz Mughal said the rules were only being implemented in the federal capital while shops in Rawalpindi remained open.

“Restaurants should be allowed to remain open until midnight, otherwise they will have to lay off a large number of employees. The government should also remember that restaurants make a large contribution to the General Sales Tax (GST),” he said.

He also said the residents of the capital will face more problems with these timings during the month of Ramazan.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2015

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