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ISLAMABAD: The All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran (APAT) has decided to reach Prime Minister House on November 30th and stage a protest sit-in against what they called 'harsh taxation measures' against the retailers and shopkeepers under the Tax Laws (Third) Amendment Ordinance, 2021.

APAT Chairman Ajmal Baloch told Business Recorder that the protest would be lodged against the promulgation of the Tax Laws (Third Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 outside the PM House on November 30th.

He stated that the first protest was made on September 29, 2021 outside the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Headquarters. Later, traders staged the second sit-in at Faizabad on October 26 to press the government for the approval of their nine-point demands. The major points include PoS system, penalties, income tax rates, sales tax registration, professional tax, property tax, and high inflation, which has increased the cost of doing business.

Baloch further informed that the third protest would now be held outside the Prime Minister House on November 30.

The FBR has slowed down the policy of notices against the small traders and shopkeepers, but the actual law, ie, Tax Laws (Third) Amendment Ordinance 2021 is still intact. Traders would continue their protest till the withdrawal of the Tax Laws (Third) Amendment Ordinance, 2021.

Traders are demanding an end to presidential ordinance that they have termed as a "black law"; end to sales tax registration and POS integration; and promulgation of a new ordinance to end corruption within the tax machinery.

The protesting traders have arrived in large numbers from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, various parts of Punjab, and from as far as the commercial hub of the country, Karachi.

The protesters continued their sit-in and representatives and leaders of various traders' associations lambasted the government and the FBR for their taxation policies. He said that presently, the traders are receiving two kinds of notices across the country.

First, the notices are related to the sales tax registration. Second, notices for registration with the Point of Sale (POS) system of the FBR. The discretionary powers of the FBR to register anyone with the POS system are totally unjustified.

The trader community has rejected the harsh provisions of the Tax Laws (Third Amendment) Ordinance, 2021. The documentation measures introduced through the presidential ordinance are complicated and it will result in increased penalties on the traders and retailers.

The protest is against the harsh tax policies and complicated and double documentation, which would increase tax evasion and corruption in the country, Baloch added. Additionally, with the promulgation of The Tax Laws (Third Amendments) Ordinance 2021 for broadening of the tax base on September 17, the government has granted sweeping powers to the FBR for disconnection of mobile phones SIMs, electricity, and gas connection of non-filers.

"The government has also given powers to the FBR to discontinue gas and electricity connections of persons, including tier-1 retailers who are either not registered or if registered, they are not integrated in terms of Section 3(9A) of the Sales Tax Act 1990," a trader representative said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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