BARA: The association of industrialists here set up a protest camp and blocked a road against the imposition of tax on industries in tribal districts.
Member National Assembly (MNA) Iqbal Afridi, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) candidate for PK-107 Shah Faisal Afridi, former MNA Muhammad Shah, Pakistan Awami Inqilabi League chairman Malik Zarbad Khan, Saeedullah Afridi and others spoke on the occasion.
The protest camp set up was on Frontier Road near Shahid Afridi Sports Complex in Bara as the road was blocked to heavy traffic.
The speakers said the government had waived off the Federal Excise Duty (FED) and other taxes after merging the erstwhile Fata with the province.
They said the FED’s imposition had led to the closure of at least 40 steel mills in erstwhile Fata and in Malakand division as they couldn’t afford to pay that tax after suffering huge losses due to militancy and military operations over the last decade.
“The closure of steel mills rendered thousands of workers jobless and hobbled the efforts to revive the local industrial units,” president steel units Muhammad Aslam said.
He criticised the federal government for what he thought was the step-motherly attitude towards the tribal districts.The association president said several surveys were conducted to compensate the mill owners for their losses but unfortunately, no payments were made to them.
Aslam added that the federal and provincial governments could not impose such taxes on industries zones in tribal districts.
He said the tribal districts had suffered during terrorism and militancy which also destroyed infrastructure and rendered thousands of people jobless.
Other speakers said the government had already announced tax relief for industries in the tribal districts for five years.
The protesters announced that their protest against the harsh measures in the federal and provincial budgets would continue even after the election in the merged districts.
Later, MNA Iqbal Afridi assured them that the issues would be raised on the floor of the National Assembly.
The protest was postponed for 10- day while president of Khyber Steel Mills Association said their mills will remain closed until the government withdrew all the taxes imposed on the steel mills.
They said that the federal and provincial governments have already announced five-year tax exemption for tribal districts during the merger of tribal districts with the province. He said that now the imposition of the taxes was unjustified.
The traders and industrialists announced to set up a protest camp on Pak-Afghan highway after the July 20 election that will continue till the government withdrew the taxes on industries in the tribal districts.
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