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LAHORE: Terming the proposed Finance (Supplementary) Bill 2021 as an act of ‘economic terrorism’, the All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran (APAT) has said that it is ridiculous that the government has proposed imposition of taxes worth Rs 343 billion on the already economically suppressed people just to secure Rs 1.8 billion or $1 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“The attitude of this incompetent and inept PTI government from the day first is that they give us Re 1 but steal Rs 500 from our pockets,” alleged APAT Central General Secretary Naeem Mir while commenting on the proposed finance (supplementary) bill at a presser on Friday. He was accompanied by a number of leaders of other markets.

He said that instead of imposing further taxes on the poor people, it is imperative that the government must cut down by its “unnecessary” expenditures. Dubbing the PTI members as a group of swindlers, Mir said it is the need of the hour that all stakeholders should sit together and chalk out a strategy how they can provide relief to the poor with available “limited resources” in addition to tightening the noose around the elites by imposing heavy taxes on them.

The APAT senior leader also accused the government of selling sovereignty of the country to IMF by proposing amendments to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) law. He said the mini-budget was not the solution to the country’s economic crisis. He said that imposition of flat 17 percent general sales tax (GST) on a large number of items, particularly food and pharmaceutical, is an indication that the incumbent government is “incompetent” and it has no “regard” for the poor. “Taxes should have been in single digit.”

He asked the opposition parties to block the passage of the bill and take to the streets against the unprecedented and historic inflation and sent packing of the ruling PTI. For this purpose, he said, the APAT has decided to organize a traders’ convention in Islamabad on January 13 in which traders from across the country would participate and decide their line of action, including countrywide agitation or complete shutter-down strike, if no relief was extended by the government.

He said it would be the eighth time that traders would go to the federal capital and vowed that they will not return empty handed this time. Turning his guns at opposition parties, the APAT leader said it was beyond his understanding why they are sitting idle though they have a lot issues in front to give a tough time to the government.

“Don’t you want votes from the public in the next general elections?” he asked and declared that if the opposition parties did not come out on roads against the “inept” government then they would because there had been “no business” since the PTI took reins of the country. “We don’t want to get our leaders elected; our sole interest is that we stability in the country which is not possible without showing doors to the incompetents,” he added.

Anjuman-e-Tajran Lahore chapter Chairman Sohail Mehmood Butt claimed that majority of traders are unable to pay their electricity bills and salaries of their staffers due to skyrocketing inflation.

“The mini-budget has affected every segment of society, including the media industry,” he said and added that they have been left with no other option except to march on to the federal capital and surround the Governor and Prime Minister House and “tell those in power” that the masses are in pain.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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