LAHORE: The All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran (APAT) has warned the coalition government to immediately remove Finance Minister Miftah Ismail otherwise they will besiege the Ministry of Finance to block his entrance.
“Those who have not consumed a single unit of electricity are receiving monthly electricity bills with thousands of rupees sales tax even though this measure was not proposed in the federal or provincial budgets for 2022-23,” lamented APAT Central Secretary General Naeem Mir while addressing a press conference at the Lahore Press Club (LPC) on Tuesday. He was flanked by leaders of several other important markets.
He said there is only mentioning of sales tax on electricity bills which means income tax would be collected separately on annual basis. He claimed not even mosques were spared from the sales tax on utility bills. This tax was meant to be collected from non-filers but at present the government has imposed it across the board, he wondered.
According to Mir, both the small and large scale industrialists are strongly criticizing Finance Minister Miftah Ismail because of his aggressive approach and harsh taxation measures which has ruined businesses and industry.
“We will neither accept the ratio of taxes on electricity bills nor its procedure,” he declared, adding that the commercial electricity unit is already costlier and despite that traders also bear the brunt of subsidized electricity. He said the financial condition of electricity consumers is already awful amid skyrocketing inflation and imposition of further taxes on them would result in chaos in the country. The way Finance Minister Miftah Ismail is introducing harsh taxation measures, it seems that he was ‘planted by someone’ who wants to destroy the “reputation of the PML-N government,” he added.
He alleged that banks are involved in black marketing of the greenback while Miftah has restricted himself to passing smiles. “We are damn sure that he (Miftah) is involved in inside trading of the US dollars,” he claimed, adding that the credit of destroying businesses of importers also goes to the minister.
In his budget speech, he said, the finance minister had announced that the government would adjust taxes imposed on commercial electricity bills in the final settlements of income and sales tax, but traders were facing hurdles in this regard.
He said the government has also imposed a monthly fixed tax of Rs 40,000 on jewelers having shop size of around 300 square foot. According to him, most of the jewelers offer services like designing or manufacturing and imposition of such a hefty tax on them is unjustifiable.
Recounting the blunders of Miftah, the APAT leader said that following depletion of foreign exchange reserves, the finance minister imposed a complete ban on the import of several luxury items and then stopped the clearance of around 2000 containers which had been arrived at the Karachi port.
“Due to subsequent depreciation of the Pak rupee and damages, the payment for clearance of each container rose to Rs3 million,” he said, adding that the people will be paying this amount amid rising inflation.
The delay in the import of required raw material badly affected production of many essential daily use items, he added. He demanded of the government to give total exemption to traders who consume less than 100 commercial electricity units in a month and restrict to the ratio of taxes proposed in the federal and provincial budgets.
He also asked the government to issue a notification recognizing retailers and give them rights of filers after collection of taxes. “Our foremost demand is immediate tax reforms and removal of Finance Minister Miftah Ismail,” he concluded.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022