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Traders oppose raids on restaurants, hotels

Traders oppose raids on restaurants, hotels

ISLAMABAD: Terming it a ‘half-baked and ill-conceived move’, the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) on Monday called upon the capital administration to halt the ongoing raids on hotels and restaurants without first issuing a warning.

“These raids are nothing short of harassing the business community,” said Muzzamil Hussain Sabri, the president of the ICCI. “The local administration should first develop proper standard operating procedures (SOPs), checklists and parameters for hotels and restaurants defining a neat and clean food.”

Mr Sabri said ensuring cleanliness in hotels and restaurants was a good step on part of the local administration but these businesses should first be warned to improve themselves as per the specified standards.

“If they fail to improve, action should be taken against them as per law,” he said while talking a group of business persons belonging to the food industry.

He said many restaurants and bakeries in the federal capital had been sealed and their photographs uploaded on the website of the ICT administration.

“This is not a good practice,” Mr Sabri said. “How can any food outlet be fined without laboratory reports.”

The ICCI members said businessmen had always cooperated with the local administration over various issues but the maintenance of neat and clean conditions in the food outlets was a vague term and cannot be defined in plain words.

The president of the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), Asad Mashahadi, also criticised the raids on food businesses without any intimation or general forewarnings to improve standards.

“Every food outlet is maintaining cleanliness as per their clientele but to implement uniform standards, there have to be some rules,” he added.

“This can be done only through the cooperation of all stakeholders.”

He quoted the example of visible differences between the traffic laws in the twin cities.

“Everybody wears seatbelts while driving in Islamabad but it is not implemented in Rawalpindi. However, it would be unfair if the Rawalpindi traffic police start implementing the law from tomorrow. They have to intimate the drivers first as it was done in the federal capital.”

Meanwhile, the chief executive of Tehzib Bakers criticised the authorities in both Rawalpindi and Islamabad as irresponsible.

“Enforcing quality standards is a right thing but going in as an attacking army accompanied with the media is a fruitless idea,” said Khalil Ahmed Noon.

“The best practice as per intentional standards is that inspectors check and even conduct surprise checks, identify flaws and give some time to rectify them.”

Mr Noon claimed that the standards followed by ‘Tehzib Bakers’ matched the international standards but such raids would eventually render all the food industry of Pakistan uncompetitive in the export markets.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2015

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