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October 10, 2019

Refuse registration, surrendering CNIC: Traders’ countrywide shutter down on 28th

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October 10, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Serena Chowk turned into a battlefield when a large number of protesting traders faced police ‘baton-charge’ as they raised full-throated slogans against tax reforms of the PTI government on Wednesday.

After failure of talks with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) the trader's community announced to observe a countrywide ‘shutter-down’ strike on October 28 and 29 against the tax reforms. The business community strongly rejected the condition to submit a copy of the Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) on sale and purchase of items valued at and over Rs50,000. They also refused to get themselves registered with the FBR.

A protest demonstration was held by the traders under the banner of ‘Tajir Bachao March’ against the tax reforms introduced by the government. The protesting traders also attempted to march towards the Federal Board of Revenue’s office.

Related: Condition of CNIC not to be withdrawn: FBR chairman

However, the police stopped them at the Serena Chowk, where they observed a sit-in. A few enraged protesters attempted to damage the public property and tried to remove barbed wires, but the police baton-charged the protesters. Meanwhile, the FBR decided to hold talks with the protesters, but they failed to yield any results.

Talking to the newsmen, the leaders of the protesting traders’ community claimed that the FBR is not ready to listen to their demands and pledged not to pay unjust taxes. They said they are ready to pay taxes but theyneeded relaxation from the government in return. Unfortunately, the government wanted to cut the rope from both ends, the protesters denounced. They further said the business community will not accept the condition of presenting copy of their CNICs for selling and purchasing goods. The traders hoped that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government will reconsider their demands and will provide them the fix tax scheme. They also said the traders were united for their demands and will continue their protest till the FBR agrees to their terms.

Meanwhile, The News made effort to get the FBR's version but no one was available to give comments on the demands of the traders. After holding parleys with the Member FBR Dr Hamid Ateeq Sarwar and Member Audit Nausheen Javed, the trader leaders announced failure to achieve FBR's agreement to their demands and to continue protest with a symbolic daily one-hour shutter down from October 15. They said they would hold a countrywide shutter down strike on October 28 and 29, 2019. Later, the protesters marched towards the FBR office by carrying a coffin and raised slogans against PTI-led regime. The trader leaders Khawaja Shafique and Ajmal Baloch said the government is not serious to resolve their problems as they held negotiations for several months but nothing substantial came out from them. Ajmal Baloch said the government is taking measures to appease the IMF and asked the government to introduce a fix tax regime for small traders, introduce a single page form for income tax returns in Urdu and exempt them from audit. The condition of CNICs for sale and purchase should also be abolished, he demanded.

The traders also demanded abolishing federal excise duty on locally-manufactured vehicles, and slashing downwards the rate of turnover tax. They also demanded the traders should not be made withholding agents.

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