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Amman Chamber of Commerce decries ‘futility’ of lockdowns

By Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas - Nov 03,2020 - Last updated at Nov 03,2020

A view of Amman during a comprehensive lockdown in May (JT file photo)

AMMAN — There needs to be measures to replace closures and curfews to combat the spread of the coronavirus, especially as closures cannot last and end up with reopening the country again, Amman Chamber of Commerce (ACC) President Khalil Hajj Tawfiq told The Jordan Times on Monday.

Tawfiq called for enforcing penalties for anyone who does not commit to public health and safety standards, noting that “there is still some leniency in this regard”.

“Even if there was an exceptional need for a closure, the government must have a plan to compensate the affected sectors. We have so many hard-hit businesses and companies shutting down after losing the ability to meet their dues nowadays,” Tawfiq said, noting that many businesses are not able to pay salaries.

The issue of paying salaries “has become a huge problem” as many companies cannot pay not only because of closures, but also due to regression in sales and weak purchasing power, the ACC president said.

“The number of bounced cheques since the beginning of the crisis until the end of September increased by 45 per cent compared with the same period last year,” Tawfiq said, noting that this requires the government to compensate damaged sectors and provide liquidity.

He cited the wedding industry as one of the most impacted sectors due to the crisis, noting that they have been shut down throughout the entire crisis up until now, making it “impossible to rise up again without help”.

There needs to be new defence orders to exempt merchants from rents, while also providing incentives to renters “to be just”, Tawfiq noted.

“The private sector cannot shoulder the cost of lockdowns, neither partial nor comprehensive, which so far has not proved useful, and thus hefty penalties and awareness campaigns are required,” he said.

The interview came in light of the government’s decision on Sunday to impose a nationwide lockdown immediately following the announcement of the results of the parliamentary elections on Wednesday, November 11, until 6am on Sunday, November 15.

On Monday, Minister of Political and Parliamentary Affairs Musa Maaytah said that the nationwide lockdown aims to protect citizens and prevent gatherings. 

On the radio, Maaytah said that citizens quarantined at home are not allowed to cast their ballots on election day. 

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