Traders continue countrywide shutter-down strike on second day

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Traders continue countrywide shutter-down strike on second day

ISLAMABAD: As a deadlock persists between the government and traders’ bodies on Wednesday after talks remained inconclusive yesterday, the second day of a two-day nationwide shutter-down strike is being observed today against the federal government’s “unfair, ineffective and anti-traders economic policies and tax reforms.”
The representatives of traders’ organizations, while holding a press conference in Islamabad, claimed that the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) contained no viable formula and the bureau was unwilling to introduce an adequate and business-friendly method of taxation.
Contrarily, following the talks, Finance Adviser Abdul Hafeez Sheikh said the policies of the FBR were being improved and claimed that about 3 to 3.5 million traders were not included in the tax net.
“The government wants to collect taxes from whosoever is earning,” he said, adding that traders’ representatives have ensured to sit down with the IMF for talks to assist the government in evading the current impasse.
All major groups of traders have sought to bring trade and economic activities across the country to a standstill for building pressure on the government to change its policies and abolish the CNIC condition on transaction of Rs50,000 or above on locally produced items.
Traders have warned expanding the protest if the conditions, including presenting a CNIC copy for buying and selling goods up to Rs50,000 is not withdrawn.
All traders of Karachi under various associations have been asked to keep shutters down on both days to protest against additional duties and taxes on imports, sales tax registration, turnover tax, fixed tax etc.
Traders’ associations in Karachi, Lahore, Quetta and other parts of the country in support of the strike call given by All-Pakistan Anjuman-i-Tajiran (APAT) and the Pakistan Traders Alliance (PTA) have also planned for marching towards Islamabad in protest.
Besides, all markets in Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Quetta, Gujrat, Liaquatpur, Peshawar, Swabi and many other urban cities are observing shutdown strike in protest.
In Karachi, several markets and bazaars have been called by the Electronic Dealers’ Association and All Sarafa Jewelers’ Association to observe strike, a day before when the anti-government protest march by opposition parties would reach the federal capital.
The traders have demanded the government and the FBR to bring “business-friendly” policies as consumers have gradually squeezed their purchases due to sky-rocketing prices of essential commodities.
Shaikh has accepted the demand of textile exporters, allowing them payment of Sales Tax (ST) refund, for the month of August and July, through old Expeditious Refund System (ERS) system.
Talking to the delegation of Textile Exporters, the advisor said that instead of filing claim Form-H for ST refunds, the exporters would be facilitated to claim their refunds through the old ERS system.
Advisor to the PM on Textile and Commerce Industry Abdul Razak Dawood, FBR Chairman Syed Shabbar Zaidi, Textile Task Force chief Ahsan Bashir, finance secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch and special finance secretary Umar Hameed Khan were also present in the meeting.
It has been agreed to improve form-H or bring about a parallel refund system within two weeks to ensure timely payment of sales tax refunds.
On the demand of the delegation, Shaikh directed the FBR to immediately pay the exporters Rs2 billion payable ST refunds for which Refund Payment Orders (RPOs) have already been issued.
He said that the government believed in promoting exports instead of blocking sales tax refunds, adding that all possible measures would be taken to facilitate exporters and resolve their grievances regarding ST refunds.

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