LAHORE - Cargo agents on Monday announced strike from today for unlimited period against the imposition of eight per cent turnover tax on loading industry.

Addressing a press conference at Lahore Press Club, the leaders of Air Cargo Agents Association of Pakistan and Pakistan Intl Freight Forwarders Association demanded of the government to immediately return back the new tax keeping in view the livelihood of about one million employees attached with cargo business.

The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in separate statement also expressed concern on the strike call of cargo agents and urged the government to address their genuine issues at the earliest.

“We already pay 16pc tax each to Sindh and Punjab governments on every shipment. Imposition of another 8pc annual tax meant for government wants to shut down our businesses,” said Tahir Malik, the ACAAP president. He asked why the government was reluctant to bring those in tax network who were not paying it despite having large businesses. He said the government must bind banks for not receiving withholding and other taxes for those who were already fall in tax net.

“The government will face $1.5 million per day losses due to our strike. It must address our demands,” he appealed.

LCCI President Ijaz A. Mumtaz said that strike would give a big blow to the export-oriented industry that is already facing various internal and external challenges.

“Strike of loading industry will not only cause hardship to the exporters but government also be the ultimate loser as far as revenue collection is concerned”, the LCCI president added.

Ijaz A. Mumtaz said that strike would virtually bring the exports and imports to a halt that would not only hit the exports hard but the industrial wheel would be stopped due to non-availability of imported raw material.

He said that just demands of the Air Cargo Agents Association and Pakistan International Freight Forwarders Association should be met by the government to avoid any anarchy like situation.

Ijaz A. Mumtaz said that the government should take appropriate measures to avert any such strike in future as it is not only hitting the economy but also sending a very negative signal to the foreign businessmen who have invested in Pakistan.

The LCCI president said that the cash-starved businesses in Pakistan were already facing multiple internal and external challenges while the strike would add fuel. He demanded of the government to take stakeholders onboard and address the genuine issues of cargo agents.