Businesses Want Government Financial Help Against Virus

(Wednesday, March 4, 2020) 11:16

In a letter to President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday, heads of commerce chamber that represents private companies called on the government to adopt supportive measures to protect businesses, especially SMEs against financial losses posed by the coronavirus.

Outlining the dire conditions of traders and manufactures due to the rapidly spreading coronavirus in Iran, the heads of Iran Chamber of Guilds, Iran Chamber of Cooperatives and Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture urged the government to provide financial assistance and help prevent recession in the already stuttering economy. 

The appeal focuses on extending the maturity dates of loans to late September without penalties, giving low-interest working capital loans to manufactures and extending strict deadlines that employers must meet for paying their monthly share of social and medical insurance premium. 

The list further includes tax mitigation or tax exemption on businesses income in the fiscal year that ends on March 19, postponing repayment of money owed to the Social Security Organization for at least eight months and granting cheap loans to the people to boost purchasing power, IRNA reported. 


Rising Fatalities  

The novel coronavirus has so far claimed 77 lives in Iran with the number of infected cases soaring to 2,300 since its outbreak two weeks ago. 

The infection, which was first reported in China in December, has caused an outbreak of dangerous and infectious respiratory illness (COVID-19) worldwide.

The total number of people across continents who have tested positive for the virus exceeded 90,000 on Tuesday with 3,100 plus deaths. 

Fears over pandemic spread has put many businesses to near closure as people have self-quarantined themselves at their houses and avoid appearing in public places. 

The pandemic has mainly hit the hospitability and tourism industry as hotels, tour operators, airlines and travel companies report cancellations on a massive scale unseen in recent history. 

The infection is also taking a toll on restaurants and food-related businesses. Many manufactures have been forced to cut their workforce, scale-down production or completely shut down. 


Impact on Trade 

In the letter, the private business owners asked the government to ease border closures that have rendered exports difficult, if not impossible.  

The epidemic has led to border closures by neighboring countries in recent days and the measures have stranded a large number of truckers and also inflicted huge losses on the exporting companies, especially those involved in the export of perishable goods.

Authorities in Tehran ordered the return of some of the trucks but many remain stuck near the borders waiting for the closures to end. 

Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Armenia closed their borders with Iran in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Turkmenistan and Iraq followed suit, as the epidemic spread new fear and concern in many parts of the world.