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July 14, 2019

Govt measures to document economy: Traders strike across country

Top Story

July 14, 2019

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE/KARACHI: Resisting the government efforts to document economy, traders across 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, 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 coincides 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 were 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 member of 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.

Karachi Motor Dealers Association, however, distanced itself from the strike call of Tajir Action Committee. “Sindh governor assured us of dialogue with the ministers concerned and redress 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.

Tajir Action Committee has demanded the government 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 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 Rs400/piece tax. They also demanded withdrawing regulatory duty at the rate of 10 per cent on import of used and second-hand clothes.

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.

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 closed 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 had been 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.

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.

The Pakistan Chemists and Druggists Association (PCDA) however did not participated in the strike in the interest of patients.

In a press release, PCDA Chairman Sheikh Mazhar Shafi announced full support to the strike against oppressive budget against traders and consumers. He said new budget will further increase unemployment. However, he said PCDA decided not to participate in strike in the larger interest of patients.

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, professional, traders calling tax, the hike in electricity and gas tariffs, and other unfair taxes imposed in the federal and provincial budget for the next fiscal period.

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.

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