Complete shutter down against new taxation, price hike, unemployment

Complete shutter down was observed in Multan, Lahore, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Rahimyarkhan , Sialkot, Gujranwala, Sargodha. Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Quetta on Saturday .A test of the PTI government and its budget policies began on Saturday as traders all over the country answered a nationwide call to strike in protest against a drive by revenue authorities to document commercial activity in the country.
The call for the shutter-down strike was given by various traders' bodies around the country, who want the government to revoke documentation requirements introduced to better assess their tax liability and roll back taxes.
There are hundreds of trader associations in Pakistan, and millions of traders who participate in the retail sector. However, while some groups rallied hard around the strike call, there was no clarity about how big the scope of the strike actually was as the main chambers of commerce and industry, from Karachi to Lahore and other cities of Punjab, did not support the call.
Critics also said the strike is nothing more than an attempt by traders to blackmail the government into maintaining status quo and keeping the economy undocumented to avoid income taxes. On discussions on social media, citizens criticised the striking traders and accused them of evading their tax liabilities by refusing to let the government document their activities.
Multan
Complete shutter down was observed in Multan city and cantonment. Fruit & vegetable market, Grain Market, Iron Market, cattle market and major Bazars, shopping centres, business concerns remained closed on Saturday to express their concern on the new taxation system as dictated by IMF. Pro-PTI traders also observed strike and joined hands with other traders.

Karachi

Major markets of Karachi observed a shutter-down strike on the call of traders.
"The strike call was given on the basis of a host of unresolved issues, ranging from an increase in be bracket of taxable income to the mandatory procurement of national identity cards (NICs) from customers conducting transactions worth Rs5 million or above," said Atiq Mir, chairman All Karachi Tajir Ittehad, a representative body of around 400 markets in the city.
Mir claimed that major markets in Clifton, Defence, Saddar, Tariq Road and 100 markets were deserted in response to the strike call today.
He claimed that at certain places, authorities had tried to get markets opened and allegedly also misled media about strike.
He said that he, personally, was against such strike as it results in financial losses.
"However by increasing sales tax on retail and asking traders to give record of every sale and purchase, traders have been compelled to take this drastic action."

Lahore

In Lahore, all large shopping hubs remained shut. Mall Road, Anarkali market, Shah Alam market and Bernadette road, Rehman Galliyan, Railway Road and Akbar Mandi remained shut for all business activities.
In a press conference, traders from the All Pakistan Traders' Union said that traders "from Karachi to Khyber" had answered the call to observe the strike.
"Traders have cast their referendum against the budget by observing this strike," said Naeem Mir, secretary of the All Pakistan Traders' Union.
"Mr prime minister, we want to solve traders' issues through talks. The government should sit us down with their representative to solve these issues," he said.
"If the government does not agree to our terms, then protest is the only way forward for us. We will not file our tax returns until our demands are met," he threatened.

Islamabad

A complete shutter-down strike was also observed in Islamabad after no government official contacted traders for any reconciliation effort.
Ajmal Baloch, president of All Pakistan Traders Association, said that Federal Board of Revenue and government only hold talks with chambers and avoids smaller traders.
He said 4.1 million registered traders have been ignored by government. He said, "Today's shutter-down is not only being observed by traders, in fact, it also channels the voice of consumers."

Khyber Pakhtunkahawa

Shangla, Kohistan, Battagram, Torghar traders are also observing a shutter-down strike against taxes and inflation.
"We have observed a historical shutter-down strike in Battagram. The strike is against inflation and proposed taxes being imposed on traders. The government is trying destroy our businesses," said Abdul Ghafar, president of Battagram's trade union.
He said inflation is now out of the control of the government and said that "the prime minister has pushed the country into an economic crisis."
Shangla Trade Union President Hamidur Rehman said that the Malakand division has been a tax-free zone since Swat became a state but the current government has decided to impose taxes here as well.
“We are already badly affected by terrorism and natural disasters and the imposition of taxes on us will be more than a disaster for us. Instead of conducting development work in our destroyed region, the government's decision of imposing taxes and inflation is beyond my understanding,” he said.
The shutter-down strike is being observed in all parts of Malakand and Hazara divisions. The strike against inflation and taxes was was called by the Pakistan Trade Union.
The markets in Shangla, Battagram, Swat, Abottabad, Haripur, Kohistan and other areas of the province remained deserted.

Many important groups, who announced they will not participate stayed at their homes and they did not come out on the streets not dared to open their business concerns .It was the first big test of the PTI government and its budget could shape up today as traders bodies from around the country have observed a nationwide strike on Saturday.Baton wielded traders were witnessed to forcibly closing the shops. Khawaja Muhammad Shafiq, Khawaja Suleman Siddiqui, Sultan Mehmood Malik, Sheikh Javed Akhtar claimed that  though there are hundreds of trader associations in Pakistan, and millions of traders yet they all participated in the strike across the country. Some groups have rallied hard around the strike call for many days now, yet till the last minute on Friday night Government failed to placate the traders to call off their strike. Traders bodies from Punjab, Balochistan, KPK  were stick to their stance to observe the strike  today. Baton wielded traders were witnessed to forcibly closing the shops.Many important groups, however, announced they will not participate. The main chambers of commerce and industry, from Karachi to Lahore and other cities of Punjab, also did not support the call. Today will show how far the traders are able to forge unity within their ranks.

Lahore gears up

Most traders’ associations and organisations in the city were unanimous to observe shutter down strike on Saturday (today) in protest against the taxes imposed by the federal government in budget 2019-20.
As preparatory arrangement, All Pakistan Anjuman Tajiran (APAT), Qaumi Tajir Ittehad, Lahore Business Front, All Pakistan Truck Trailer Owners Association, Jewelers Association, Auto Dealers Association and all other trade bodies of the city held emergency meetings on Friday in a bid to make the event successful.
“We will not negotiate with the government till the withdrawal of unfair taxes. The government is trying hard to divide us. But we will not be divided,” announced Naeem Mir, central secretary general of the APAT while addressing a press conference at the Lahore Press Club on Friday.
Flanked by the leaders of different markets including Amjad Chaudhry, Waqar Ahmed Mian, Haji Hanif, Malik Amanat, Sohail Mehmood Butt Imran Bashir, Sheikh Irfan Iqbal, Mian Tahir Subhani, Malik Farooq Hafiz, Agha Zulfiqar, Syed Azmat Shah and Malik Kaleem, he claimed support of major traders’ associations across the country. The decision of shutter down is not in the hand of APAT rather it will be decided now by over 3 million traders across the country from Karachi to Peshawar.
“It will be the country’s biggest shutter down strike,” claimed Mir. “We will ensure complete shutter down on Saturday.”
Lahore Businessmen Front chairman Amjad Chaudhry said the businessmen rejected this budget made by bureaucracy on the instructions of International Monetary Fund. Other traders were of the view that without bringing any reforms in FBR, government has handed over budget matters to the IMF.
In Sargodha traders alliance, after prolonged discussion, decided to observe the strike call of All Pakistan Traders Association. Although traders were divided about the strike, after three hours of deliberation they decided to join the strike.
Besides this, various traders’ associations in Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sahiwal, Khanewal, Rawalpindi and other districts were reported to observe strike called for Saturday (today). However, Lahore-based Pakistan Traders Alliance (PTA) announced to not become part of the strike. “When the FBR people have removed our concerns in writing, why should we observe the strike,” said PTA chairman Nasir Hameed.
Punjab government, after seven-hour long negotiations with trade representatives on Friday, agreed to remove the CNIC-based invoicing for transactions valued below Rs50,000.
A press release issued by the Office of the Minister for Industries, Commerce, Investment and Skills Development Department Punjab said the Federal Board of Revenue Chairman Shabbar Zaidi was taken on board during the negotiations who agreed to reduce tax on ghee from seven per cent to 2pc.
The CNIC condition would only be imposed on dealers who buy goods directly from factories whereas those falling under the ‘Fix Tax Net’ will be excluded the condition, the release added.

Karachi divided

KARACHI: A rift emerged among traders in the city on Friday ahead of a countrywide strike call given by various organisations for July 13, 2019 under the umbrella of the Markazi Tanzeeme Tajiran Pakistan (MTTP) and All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran. A number of small groups under the Karachi Tajir Action Committee (KTAC), representing various markets, have decided to keep their shutters open.
Prior to this, various market based bodies had united on one platform to give a tough response against the budget.
To gain support of Karachi traders, President MTTP Kashif Chaudhry held a press conference at Karachi Press Club on Thursday, soliciting support from traders for the strike call.
Kashif claimed to have received support from representatives of over 400 markets of Karachi which included Saddar, Tariq Road, Clifton, Defence, Liaquatabad, M.A. Jinnah Road markets, Gul Plaza, Timber and furniture markets, iron and steel markets, auto parts, cloth markets, Landhi, Korangi, Malir and Garden Area markets.
Contrary to this, representatives of the KTAC on Friday announced their deviation from Saturday’s countrywide shut down.
At a hurriedly called press conference at Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Friday, KTAC members vowed to keep their markets and shops open.
Giving details, one of the members of KTAC, Mohammad Sharjeel Gopalani claimed that “95 per cent of Karachi markets will remain open on Saturday.”
“There is no pressure of any kind on KTAC members for opening the markets,” he said, adding that the government was willing to talk to the traders and the latest round of talks had gone well. However, he did not specify who the government had sent to deal with the traders.
“Our negotiations with the government representatives on Thursday have been successful in which 10 out of the 11 demands have been agreed by the officials.”
Only the CNIC issue has been left on which Member Tax Policy Inland Revenue had clarified in detail in print media on Friday.
He said government officials had agreed to resolve the issues by arranging meetings of KTAC members with National Tariff Commission (NTC), Member Inland Revenue FBR, Commerce Ministry and Finance Ministry since for many matters the FBR needs to coordinate with these departments.
Another member of the KTAC, Ahmed Shamsi said markets including Jama Cloth, Medicine market, Bohri Bazar Saddar, Sarafa Market, used car dealers showrooms, Light House, Khalid Bin Waleed Road, Jodia Bazar, Timber Market, Iron and Steel Market, Ranchore Line, Lee Market, Lyari area markets, Hyderi markets, Gulf Shopping Centre at Clifton, few markets of Tariq Road and Liaquatabad market will remain open on Saturday.
“I am sure that 65-70pc markets of Karachi will do their business as usual,” he claimed adding some market traders are trying to mislead the trading community, thus pressuring traders to close their businesses amid ongoing negotiations with the government.
In contrast, President Karachi Electronic Dealers Association (KEDA), Mohammad Rizwan Irfan, who was one of the main members of KTAC, said the electronic market intended to observe the strike.

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South Punjab News : Complete shutter down against new taxation, price hike, unemployment
Complete shutter down against new taxation, price hike, unemployment
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South Punjab News
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