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September 9, 2015

Traders, businessmen to observe strike today


September 9, 2015

LAHORE: Traders and business community will observe countrywide complete shutter down strike, halting business activities on Wednesday against the imposition of withholding tax on all types of banking transactions.
This would be the second countrywide strike on the same issue. Earlier, the business community succeeded in observing the strike across country, pressurising the Federal Board of Revenue to halve the rate of withholding tax on banking transactions, and extending the date of implementation of the said tax.
However, a faction of traders refused the FBR incentive, sticking to their single point agenda of withdrawal of the withholding tax from banking transactions, which has compelled the other groups to join hands with them and show their muscle power to the government.
On Tuesday, different factions of the traders in two different press conferences announced the complete shutter down strike on Wednesday. They said that after this strike, they will announce their future plans of protests and strikes which would be for an indefinite period.
Khalid Pervaiz, leader of a faction also requested the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to intervene in the situation, as the civil administration was not resolving the trader and business community problems. He said that the democratic government was not taking their problem seriously, which resulted in sharp decline in formal business transactions through the banking channels. He said that if the situation continued, undocumented economy in the country will increase.
Meanwhile, the Progressive and Lahore Businessmen Front Alliance (PLBFA) also announced of its complete participation in the shutter down announced for September 9, 2015 by the trader community. Customs Clearing Agents Association (CCAA) also announced to join the strike along with the PLBFA.
PLBFA Chairman Chaudhry Muhammad Amjad, and President Khalid Usman accompanied by Ejaz Tanveer, Abdul Wadood Alvi, Sardar Usman Ghani, Raja Hassan

Akhtar and Customs Clearing Agents Association (CCAA) President Masood Butt said that government seemed to be ready to crush businessmen and industrialists who were the main source of increasing revenues.
They said that businessmen had never refused to pay taxes, but the government instead of taxing those who were already in the net, should bring new people in to the tax net.
They said that this tax had not only made life of the traders miserable, but also destroyed the whole banking sector, as it was now facing a collective loss of Rs878 billion.
They assured the traders’ organisation, who had given the call for a strike on September 9, of their full support till the achievement of their objectives. They also appealed to the traders to fully participate in the strike, forgetting all their political and personal interests, so that the government should get a strong message.
They also claimed that imposition of 0.6 per cent withholding tax would leave a negative impact on the national economy and multiply the hardships being faced by the masses.
PLBFA candidates for corporate and associate class in the forthcoming LCCI elections were also present on this occasion.
After the traders and business community, the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) also announced to observe the September 9 strike.
The election activities have reached the peak, and the ruling alliance in the chamber has been facing serious criticism from the trader community for taking the government’s side on the issue of withholding tax. On the other hand, the opposition in the chamber politics was openly supporting the traders call for strike against the imposition of withholding tax on banking transactions. To avoid the negative impact, the LCCI ruling alliance too, decided to support the traders.
LCCI President Ijaz A Mumtaz in a statement issued on Tuesday stated that the chamber decided to go with the traders as they were the backbone of the economy, and played an important role in the economic uplift of the country.
He said that unfortunately the government has not shown any flexibility on the issue of withholding tax on banking transactions and forced the business community to observe a strike to register their protest.
He said the government should withdraw this tax, as it the tax collection machinery had no authentic data to specify the differences between filers and non-filers. He said that imposition of 0.3 percent withholding tax on banking transaction was sheer injustice and against the government’s own policy of tax net expansion.
He said that the LCCI was with all the trade and industrial associations against the imposition of tax on bank transactions.
Mumtaz said that if tax on all banking transactions was imposed forcefully, it would not only hamper the trade and economic activities, but also tarnish the image of the government.
The LCCI president said a number of trade and industrial associations approached the LCCI to inform that the imposition of tax on all banking transactions was causing unrest and putting the interests of the business community on stake.

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