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Govt measures to document economy: Traders observe strike across country

Top Story

July 14, 2019

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE/KARACHI: Resisting the government efforts to document economy, traders across teh country observed a shutter-down strike on Saturday, though it remained partial in some markets and cities.

Last week, All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran (APAT) had announced a nationwide shutter-down strike from July 13 against the government over the condition of CNIC with invoices and hike in sales tax in the federal budget. Traders in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar observed a shutter-down strike, along with those in Multan, DI Khan and various other cities.

Traders in Karachi observed a token shutter-down strike on Saturday against regulatory conditions, as almost all the major markets remained closed. This coincided with the strikes being observed by various federal-level trade associations. Atiq Mir, President All Karachi Tajir Ittehad, said all the major markets in the city were closed in protest against high taxes and certain regulatory conditions, such as provision of computerised national identity card (CNIC) copy on transactions of Rs50,000 and above. “It is a coincidence that traders association across country observed strike on Saturday. All the markets that are affected with the new taxation regime are supporting the strike.” He said All Karachi Tajir Action Committee, Timber Merchants Association, Karachi Electronic Dealers Association, All Karachi Tajir Ittehad, Jodia Nazar Market Association, Sarafa Market Association and many other traders’ bodies observed strike. “This is a one-day token strike and we are hoping that PM Imran Khan would consider the situation and take measures accordingly. We are also expecting a meeting with the PM next week.”

The traders are protesting against the 17 per cent Sales Tax in VAT mode, higher turnover tax, provision of CNIC copy on transactions of Rs50,000 and above and several other taxes. Traders said additional taxes had increased prices, adversely impacting their sales and business. Rizwan Irfan, President Karachi Electronics Dealers Association, said all the electronics markets in Karachi were closed. “There was a difference of opinion among some members of the Tajir Action Committee, but now we have closed our markets on the call of the Committee.”

Farid Qureshi, Secretary General Karachi Retailers and Grocers Association, said most of the markets were closed; however, some retailers, food centres and commercial areas in certain localities were open. Tajir Action Committee has demanded the government to do away with the value added tax; restore income tax exemption up to sale of Rs1.2 million, and reduce turnover tax from 0.6 per cent to 0.3 per cent. The Action Committee has also demanded restoration of income tax exemption for up to Rs1.2 million annual salary income, and abolishing the condition of taking CNIC copy from customers of over Rs50,000. Karachi Tajir Action committee has also demanded the government to introduce fixed tax regime for traders with four different slabs and asked the revenue body to stop harassing traders in the name of audit. The traders unit demanded abolishing the new taxation regime for mobile phones and proposed tax of Rs400 per piece. They also demanded withdrawing regulatory duty at the rate of 10 per cent on import of used and second-hand clothes. The President of Tariq Road Alliance said he was supporting the call for strike given by the All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran (APAT) and the Tajir Action Committee. “All markets in Bahadurabad and Tariq Road will remain closed for business,” he said. General Secretary of the APAT Naeem Mir said the business community was united and observing shutter-down strike with full force.

Karachi Motor Dealers Association, however, distanced itself from the strike call of Tajir Action Committee. “Sindh governor assured us of dialogue with the relevant ministers and redressal of genuine grievances, after which we distanced ourselves from the strike and automobile markets are open across the city,” HM Shahzad, chairman Motor Dealers Association said.

LAHORE: Major markets like The Mall, Beadon Road and Hall Road observed total strike. However, shops in Abid Electronic market remained open. The Liberty Market was completely shut as was Akbari Market and Shah Alam Market. The Abbott Road and Montgomery markets remained closed but shops in adjoining McLeod Road market were open. Small markets like Dharampura Bazaar and Garhi Shuhu market operated normally, but the markets in and around Chamberlain Road remained closed. The markets at Thokar Niaz Baig also remained operative. Anarkali was mostly closed. Shops in Mozang operated normally.

Despite impressive closure of shops, the city did not give the deserted look, which was the hallmark of previous strikes. The government is still holding talks with different groups of traders, but if one group accepts the government stance, the other opposes. The Markazi Anjuman-e-Tajran (Punjab) President Sharjeel Mir said traders were united countywide and they protested against the wrong government policies. “The business community strongly rejected the budget and new taxes imposed by the FBR by observing strike on Saturday,” he added. Secretary General Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran Naeem Mir, while addressing a press conference, claimed that by observing shutter-down strike, traders from Karachi to Khyber expressed their no-confidence against the budgetary measure. He appealed the Prime Minister Imran Khan to hold talks with the real representative of traders. President Liberty Market Zaheer Babar claimed that it was the most successful strike ever observed in Lahore. Chairman Pakistan Traders Alliance Lahore Ansar Zahoor Butt, who opposed the strike, justified his position stating that the government had accepted the demands of small traders.

RAWALPINDI: Trade bodies were divided on the issue of shutter-down strike against the imposition of taxes in the budget 2019-20. The leaders of three groups of Anjuman-e-Tajran, including Shahid Ghafoor Paracha, Sharjeel Mir and Arshad Awan announced observing strike while another group, led by Shahid Qayyum Mughal, said they would keep their businesses open. District President of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Traders Wing Shahid Qayyum Mughal said they wanted to give time to the government as the previous rulers had destroyed the economy.

QUETTA: Traders across Balochistan observed a complete shutter-down strike against inflation and increasing taxes on the traders' community. In Quetta, all shops, shopping malls and business centres remained shut during the day. Because of the strike, roads in Quetta also wore a deserted look and the flow of traffic was thin. The strike against inflation was also observed in other cities of Balochistan.

Peshawar Bureau adds: Traders in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa pulled down shutters on Saturday as a mark of protest against “unfair” taxes and poor economic policies, documentation for retailers and other taxes imposed by government in the federal and provincial budget for fiscal year 2019-20.

On the call of central traders association, Markazi Tanzeem Tajiran Pakistan, a conglomerate of various traders association of the country, a complete shutdown was observed in different parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. To express solidarity with the protesting trader community, the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry was also closed on Saturday. The local traders set up a protest camp in Bazar-e-Abresham Garraan near Qissa Khwani in Peshawar. They had displayed banners inscribed with slogans against the imposition of new taxes. Traders also took out rallies in different parts of the province.The protesting traders demanded the withdrawal of the CNIC condition for retailers and terming the tax, the hike in electricity and gas tariffs as unfair taxes imposed in the federal and provincial budget. The trader leaders visited Chowk Yadgar, Sarafa Bazaar, Khyber Bazaar, Qissa Khwani, Hashtnagri to make the strike successful. In Peshawar, markets and business centres in Chowk Yadgar, Khyber Bazaar, Qissa Khwani, Soekarno Chowk, Ghanta Ghar, Chowk Nasir Khan Bazaar, Sadder Road, Karimpura, Shaheen Bazaar, New Muslim Meena Bazaar, Hashtnagri, and other areas remained shut as part of the nationwide-strike against the government after a hike in sales tax in the federal budget.

HARIPUR: The trader community observed the shutdown, bringing the business activities in the city to almost standstill. On the call of local traders' bodies, the shopkeepers of all the bazaars and markets in Haripur kept their shops closed throughout the day against the imposition of what they called heavy taxes.

MANSEHRA: The business community in upper parts of Hazara observed a complete shutdown. The business centres, shops and even eateries remained completely shut in Mansehra, Balakot, Oghi, Shinkiari, Torghar and Kohistan districts.

SWABI: A complete shutdown strike was observed by traders against what they said unjust taxes. Shops and markets in district headquarters and four tehsils remained closed and the trader representatives monitored the roads and markets, warning people against opening their shops. The traders demanded the government should immediately withdraw the taxes which they termed unfair.

MARDAN: The trader community observed a complete shutdown throughout the district against the taxes. The Markaz-i-Tanzeem-i-Tajiran, Zahir Shah group, arranged a rally outside Mardan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI). Another rally was led by Ihsanullah Bacha, president Markaz-e-Tanzeem-e-Tajiran, Khwaja Mohammad Khan Hoti, Parveez Khan and other traders. The rally was started The traders chanted slogans against the federal government.

DI KHAN: The trader community observed strike and staged a protest on the call of central leadership of traders federations. All the markets and shopping malls remained closed all the daylong. The traders unions gathered at different points of the city and rallied against the budgetary measures and tax reforms. The main procession was taken out by the representatives of trade unions which was participated by political activists of main stream political organizations as well as members of civil society. The rally was also joined by ordinary people.

TANK: The shutdown strike by the trade unions was also observed in Tank. The markets remained closed and traders took out processions against imposition of heavy taxes.

HANGU: The traders union observed the strike in the district against the ruthless taxes. The union president Zafar Iqbal and others said the government had failed to come up to the expectations of the people. They criticised the government for making life miserable for the poor.

MINGORA: All shopkeeper unions observed a complete shutdown in seven tehsils of Swat district against the explosive taxes. Besides shops, hotels, filling stations and medical stores were also closed and the people faced tremendous problems.

CHAKDARA: On the calls of the all shopkeepers and traders union, the markets and shops here remained closed. The doctors and lawyers communities also observed strike in support of their own demands, staying away from the hospital and courts.

CHARSADDA: A complete shutter-down was observed in the district against the price-hike and illegal taxes. The traders union and political parties blocked the road at Farooq Azam Chowk and chanted slogans against the government’s anti-people policies.

NOWSHERA: The traders unions and people rejected the so-called budget by observing complete shutter-down and wheel-jam strike in the district. The protesters blocked the GT Road at Pabbi and Jehangira to all kinds of traffic.

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