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P
PR
July 4, 2019

APNS condemns levy of sales tax on advertisements

National

P
PR
July 4, 2019

KARACHI: The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) has strongly condemned the levy of sales tax on newspaper advertisements by the Sindh government that was explicitly excluded by them in 2013.

Hameed Haroon, President, and Sarmad Ali, the Secretary General, of the APNS, have deplored the sudden issuance of the notification of June 27, 2019, one day after the passing of the Sindh budget, reversing its 2013 decision not to levy a sales tax regime on newspapers advertisements.

The APNS stated, “The Sindh government has violated its earlier decision without any prior consultation or dialogue with the stakeholders. The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, had provided us repeated assurances that all matters relating to a sales tax for services to and by newspapers would be resolved amicably. Strangely, the proposal to impose the sales tax was not included in the Sindh government’s budget proposals. The Sindh Revenue Board has instead unilaterally decided to impose the new tax, a clear indication that it does not respect its own annual budget, nor does it believe in facilitating conditions necessary for the survival of a free press and its journalists in Sindh.

“The situation that arises from the new moves by the Sindh government is an alarming one. The Sindh government has already failed to clear a huge, subsidized backlog of advertising dues worth over Rupees one billion, several bills going back to as early as 2010. They repeatedly state that many of the advertising records have been destroyed by a mysterious fire in the Sindh Information Department, and the Sindh Chief Minister’s Inspection Team is dilly-dallying on the verification process on the past bills, despite a third-party audit having largely cleared such bills. In this way, the Sindh government has contrived to usurp the financial rights of newspapers, and to inflict colossal damage upon those national newspapers and periodicals headquartered in Sindh, as well as the regional media located in the province.”

It added: “We ask this question from the Sindh government: is it fair and just that the government acquiesces in the destruction of the newspaper industry in the province of Sindh? Is it acceptable that they attempt to initiate an exodus of print media group headquarters away from Karachi to other provinces, and to stifle the regional, including Sindhi language, print media? Is this a rational policy that is consonant with the vows made by Sindh legislators to protect the press under the Constitution of Pakistan? Or have we simply become a collateral damage to sustain the ill-thought decisions of the Sindh government?”

The APNS urged the Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party, Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and Syed Murad Ali Shah, the Chief Minister of Sindh, to withdraw this draconian measure and to immediately begin payments of advertising dues to the print media in Sindh. It said otherwise it will be forced to conclude that the Sindh government is no friend of the free press, and to consider alternative measures for our survival.

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