KARACHI: The business community has announced to observe countrywide shutter down strike on July 13 (Saturday) against hike in sales tax.
The All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran (APAT) announced a nationwide shutter-down strike from July 13. A strike was underway in Gujranwala by the Anjuman-e-Tajran Cloth Board, while the association’s president announced that they would keep all shops and markets closed on Tuesday as well. Markets and shops would remain closed in Saeed Nagri Bazaar, Urdu Bazaar, Thakur Singh Bazaar, and Sarafa Bazaar for two days. The association’s president threatened that the strike might continue indefinitely if the additional taxes are not withdrawn.
A similar strike against the rise in taxes was going on in Faisalabad as well, with markets including Ghalla Mandi and Chowk Ghanta Ghar completely closed.
Traders and businessmen called a strike against imposition of 17 percent sales tax in the tribal districts as well, with as many as 35 steel mills reportedly shut down in the tribal regions. The president of the Fata Steel Mills Association has threatened to protest outside the provincial assembly if the tax is not withdrawn.
The marble industry was also affected in Mardan, with factory owners and labourers staging a protest rally from the industrial estate to the commissioner's office against the government against the rise in sales tax.
The protesters said that the government was not willing to budge despite the fact that marble factories in the province had been closed for the past nine days. President of the All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran Ittehad said that the strike would be called against "the anti-trader policies announced by the government in the budget".
Meanwhile, the Markazi Tanzeem-e-Tajran, an organisation of traders, announced to support the countrywide shutter down strike on Saturday (July 13). Addressing a news conference after a meeting of different bodies of traders here, Muhammad Kashif Chaudhry rejected the budget 2019-2020 saying the traders would continue to protest till acceptance of their demands.
He said that there would be no talks with the government till their demands are accepted, saying all efforts to divide the traders community would be foiled. He said the government was given 32-point charter of demands which was not given due consideration despite passage of July 7 deadline. The Pakistan Traders Alliance Chairman Shaikh Saleem, President Tanzeem-e-Tajran Punjab Sharjeel Mir and others were also present on the occasion.
Meanwhile, Ajmal Baloch, President All Pakistan Markazi Anjuman-e-Tajran, and Khalid Chaudhry, Secretary Information Traders Action Committee Islamabad, held a meeting with traders of the Islamabad Capital Territory on Wednesday and appealed to them to fully participate in the nationwide shutter down strike on July 13, Saturday, to express resentment over the tax measures announced in the national budget by the federal government.
Ajmal Baloch said that shutter down strike would not be against the government, rather it would be against the IMF-dictated anti-traders’ tax measures in the budget. He said the detail of conditions given in the report released by the IMF on Monday was quite disturbing as implementation of these conditions would further squeeze the business activities and economy.
He said the FBR chairman had been advising people on how to avoid tax payment and now he wanted to bring people into the tax net within days, which was not feasible. He said the government should have trained people on tax matters and created awareness in them about the benefits of tax payment, but nothing of this sort was done while the amnesty scheme also seemed to have flopped. He said the FBR was not ready to listen to traders due to which the trading community was worried while people were also facing great inflation.
He demanded that Prime Minister Imran Khan in consultation with traders should announce forthwith amendments in the budget; otherwise, traders would go for complete shutter down on Saturday.
Khalid Chaudhry, former Senior Vice President ICCI and Secretary Information Traders Action Committee Islamabad, said that without bringing any reforms in the FBR, the government has handed over budget matters to the IMF. He said that increase in dollar price has brought a new wave of inflation in the country while imposition of new taxes in the budget has created great concerns in the business community. He appealed to traders to observe a shutter down on Saturday for protection of their business interests.
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