Lahore, Karachi traders divided over strike called against taxes


The Pakistan Traders Alliance on Thursday announced to end the strike after successful negotiations with the Punjab government on July 13, while the Karachi Electronic Dealers Association said they will continue will with the shutter-down strike in the city.

Last week, the All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran (APAT) had announced a nationwide shutter-down strike from July 13 against the government in several cities of the country for a hike in sales tax in the federal budget.

In a seven-hour long meeting at the Punjab Chief Minister’s office, the APAT and the trader organisation reached a consensus to and took back the call for a shutter down strike.

Speaking to the media, Punjab Minister for Industries, Commerce and Investment Mian Aslam Iqbal said, “The Punjab government has approved of all our demands and now there is no justification for a strike. Markets and shops will remain open now.”

Iqbal added, “All the genuine demands of the traders had been approved after a seven-hour long dialogue. The federal government would be contacted for the solution of some issues.”

He further said the anti-government trade organisations were propagating that national identity card would be demanded from every customer.

“This condition is only for the main dealers not for the shopkeepers and customers. A fixed tax system was being introduced for the sub-dealers. No tax was being imposed on small shopkeepers,” Iqbal added.

The minister added, the government could not run without taxes. “Those who were able to pay taxes were being brought into the tax net. The CNIC condition was for those who were doing business with mills. CNIC would not be demanded from the customers who would purchase less than Rs 50,000. A separate tax system would be brought for the jewellery association with their consultation.”

Iqbal added, the Federal Bureau of Revenue would not conduct raids on markets neither it would freeze anyone’s account. “The Punjab government has decided not to increase the price of Rs20kg flour bag and the same would be available at the same old price i.e Rs. 770 and government would give subsidy in this regard,” he added.

He continued, “The Punjab government was giving a subsidy of Rs42 billion for providing flour at reasonable rates. The checking the price of essential commodities was the right of government if it was giving a subsidy of billions of rupees for the provision of essential items at reasonable rates.”

Moreover, he said the summary had been sent to the prime minister for taking back the tax on ghee. “The tax on cement, ghee and sugar had also been decreased,” he added.

On the other hand, the Karachi Electronic Dealers Association has said they will continue with the shutter down strike today (Friday) while in Faisalabad a strike has been ongoing since July 1 in the processing industry.

In the tribal region, the Steel Mills has closed since July 1 impacting the livelihood of 10,000 workers.

Traders and businessmen have called a strike against the imposition of 17 per cent sales tax in the tribal districts as well, with as many as 35 steel mills reportedly shut down in the tribal regions. The president of the FATA Steel Mills Association has threatened to protest outside the provincial assembly if the tax is not withdrawn.