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Punjab Govt Exempts IT Sector From ‘Anti-Smog’ Lockdown Order

The Caretaker Government of Punjab has exempted the IT sector from its anti-smog smart lockdown order and included it in the category of essential services. The notification issued by the government states that e-commerce, international IT centers, call centers, software houses, and telecom services will remain open.

According to the official order, the following are now exempted from closure:

Pharmacies/Medical Stores

Medical Facilities and Vaccination Centers

Petrol Pumps, Oil Depots

Tandoors, Bakeries, Grocery/Karyana stores, Milk/Dairy Shops, Sweet Shops, Vegetable/Fruit Shops

Chicken/Meat Shops

E-commerce/Postal/Courier Services and Utility Services (Electricity, Natural Gas, Internet, Cellular Networks/Telecom, international IT Centers, and call centers)

The rest of the orders shall remain applicable as such, it added.

Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and ITES (P@SHA) wrote a letter to the caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab, demanding an exemption to the IT sector from the decision to close offices and businesses as the province reels from intense smog.

Chairman P@SHA Muhammad Zohaib Khan said in the letter that a business shutdown would affect exports of information technology and software services.

He gave the following reasons why the provincial government’s order for “restricted movement” in the sector was harmful:

*Disruption to IT Exports*: The restricted movement in the primary hub of IT exports will halt operations, leading to failure in meeting international clients’ deadlines, which can result in substantial financial losses and contractual penalties.

*Damage to Brand Pakistan*: The interruption in services will tarnish the international image of Pakistan as a reliable IT service provider. This damage to reputation is long-lasting and far more challenging to repair.

*Customer Distrust*: Our global clients rely on our promise of continuity and reliability. An unforeseen shutdown of IT services will breed customer distrust and lead to clients seeking services from other countries, resulting in a loss of business in the short term and potentially a reduction in foreign IT investments in the long run.

The P@SHA executive urged the Punjab government to issue an immediate addendum to the notification, exempting IT exporters, call centers, and related businesses from this order. He recommended that IT companies be allowed to continue their operations under strict health safety protocols as they did during the pandemic.

Pursuant to P@SHA’s request, the provincial government has now revised its order.

Source: Pro Pakistani

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