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KARACHI: Traders on Friday marked a shutter-down strike across the megacity, demanding of the interim government a cut in petroleum and electricity prices, with over a dozen taxes they are tagged with.

“The city’s all main shopping and trade centres including the grains, medicines, gold, clothes and electronics markets remained closed today,” Jamil Paracha, Chairman Sindh Tajir Ittehad told Business Recorder.

The strike, which was a complete success, was a wake-up call for the government to look into the economic issues of traders and poor citizens in the wake of huge inflation, he said.

He pointed out that the electricity bills, which the K-Electric sends to its residential and commercial users, contain over a dozen taxes including the TV fee.

“The interim government has to reverse the price hike and waive the taxes,” Paracha demanded and voiced concerns over the growing inflation from the fresh fuel and power prices increase, which he said, has crippled the small traders, as well.

“At least half of the earning goes to pay the shop rent and half is spared for power bills,” he said and questioned the government as to how a small trader will be able to feed his family amid the ever rising inflation.

He said that the poor citizens are selling their household items for food and medicines, as business activities are at the lowest levels in the history. “Life is challenging for the traders,” he said.

He warned that the government of another strike in future if it failed to accommodate the traders demands. He; however, distanced himself from Jamaat-e-Islami’s strike on Sep 2 (today).

“Talks with the FBR held on waiving taxes on electricity bills up to 400 units,” Ismail Lalpuria, spokesman for All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran told Business Recorder, saying that the huge taxation hurts traders, badly.

“Electricity bill has a half of taxation for other heads than power consumption,” he said and showed fears that the electricity bills swallow major chuck of the monthly earning of people.

To a question about failing to reach a common ground with the government on a cut in taxes in power bills, he said that traders will again go on strike if their demands are not met.

“Traders are now united on a single platform, to force the government to end the taxation,” he said and asserted that the government will have to end the taxes.

However, Mehmood Hamid, President All Pakistan Organization of Small Traders and Cottage Industry Karachi chapter asked the government to stop playing down the inflationary effects on traders and the poor.

He slammed that the interim prime minister for being “non-serious” about the financial woes of the poor amid searing inflation to a historic high, saying that the ruling class has to end luxuries worth Rs550 billion of a free fuel and Rs220 billion of free electricity.

“People are losing trust on the state,” he warned, adding that the financial sufferings have made the underprivileged class hopeless of its future and prosperity.

He asked the government to go on austerity drive immediately and refuse to accept the IMF’s economic “agenda” for Pakistan.

He said that the strike remained successful, adding that “his organization will also support the JI’s countrywide strike on September 2, Saturday”.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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SM Sep 02, 2023 03:06pm
Please hire a proofreader because there were so many grammatical mistakes. It's not "Lose trust on the state," it's, "Lose trust in the State."
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