AMMAN - Clothing and footwear merchants on Sunday urged the government to adopt swift measures to boost the sector, which was hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis.

According to Jordan’s Textile and Readymade Clothes Syndicate (JTRCS) President Muneer Deyeh, the COVID-19 crisis has left the sector with “many challenges that need to be addressed urgently”.

“We are hopeful that the government will adopt measures that will ease the financial burden on our industry so that many entities will not be forced to shut down or let go of many of its employees,” Deyeh told The Jordan Times in a phone interview on Sunday.

The JTRCS president said that the industry was “already suffering even before the COVID-19 crisis”.

“The government imposed some taxes on the industry even before the coronavirus issue, and now there are many financial burdens that the industry is facing, such as piled up utility bills, taxes, bank loans and employees’ salaries,” Deyeh said.

He added that industry representatives met with Jordan Chamber of Commerce last week to discuss the “challenging situation”.

“We listed all our demands so that the chamber would follow up on them, and we hope that the government will respond,” Deyeh said.

Masaad Qawasmi, a representative of the clothing and footwear sector at the Jordan Chamber of Commerce, told The Jordan Times that “the government needs to step in and help the merchants who are not in control of their financial situation and have suffered from a recession”.

Many merchants were “hopeful” about gaining financial ground during Ramadan, but the short working hours and repeated lockdowns “did not help the sector stand on its feet”, he added.

“The decline in sales during Ramadan was unprecedented due to the comprehensive and sudden lockdown that was imposed by the government before the Eid Al Fitr holiday for a period of three days and during the holy month,” Qawasmi told The Jordan Times.

Nevertheless, he said that he has hopes that the government “will intervene and stop the decline by reducing sales tax and customs duties on the sector’s imports and others fees that the sector must pay in order to boost sales and protect the industry and its employees”.

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