All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran (APAT) Wednesday announced to observe four-day countrywide shutter-down strike against measures taken by the government including documentation requirements and new tax system introduced in the budget 2019-2020.
Addressing a press conference, the APAT office-bearers said shutter-down strike would be observed phase-wise. In the first phase, the traders would observe countrywide strike on 15th and 16th Aug against the government's taxation measures introduced in the budget.
The traders will observe another strike on 26th and 27th Aug as well if their demands are not met, said traders union representatives including APAT chairman Ajmal Baloch, central general secretary Naeem Mir, Kashif Chaudhry and others.
However, Baloch said traders are ready to talk if the govt is ready to resolve their problems. He further rejected the notion of non-payment of taxes by the traders, adding that the traders' community is paying taxes. He said the prime minister should protect the traders from the looters within tax departments.
The traders demanded that Prime Minister Imran Khan in consultation with the traders should announce forthwith amendments in the budget; otherwise the traders would go for complete shutter-down for an extended period.
They were of the view that without bringing any reforms in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the government handed over budget matters to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The traders lambasted the government, saying that anti-business measures with the slogan to improve country's economy are actually creating difficulties for survival of the masses. The country is moving towards destruction with the new policies, they added.
Talking to Business Recorder, Kashif Chaudhry said shutter-down strike call is unanimous decision of all trade bodies. This time markets from Peshawar to Karachi would remain shut, he claimed. He further said that 32-point charter of demand was presented to the government for improving economy, but the government did not respond positively. He admitted that such shutter-down strikes would result in unemployment and closure of industries.
The traders had earlier observed a strike on July 13 as they refused to submit tax returns of 2019 until acceptance of their demands. The business community gave a mixed reaction to the countrywide shutter-down strike given by the traders' bodies to protest the imposition of certain taxes in the budget. The traders have been demanding the government to remove the new condition of presenting computerised national identity cards (CNICs) for purchases of over Rs 50,000.
FBR chairman Shabbar Zaidi said condition of CNIC is part of a larger drive against the tax evasion. There are about 381,000 trading units that fall under the sales tax jurisdiction, but only 47,000 of them are registered. Of the registered trading businesses, only 17,000 pay sales tax to the government. The government wants to change that equation by bringing more traders in the tax net, he said.