LAHORE - A partial strike against imposition of 0.3 percent withholding tax on banking transactions was observed in Punjab capital on Wednesday.

All wholesale markets of the city remained closed for the third time in almost one month. Most of the retailers, however, preferred to continue with their usual business ignoring the strike called by All Pakistan Anjum-e-Tajiran Khalid Pervaiz Group.

The internal divisions of the trade bodies led to the partial shutdown since another group had already observed a complete strike across the country.

The markets that remained closed included The Mall, Panorama Centre, Hall Road, Beadon Road, Urdu Bazar, Brandreth Road, Shah Alam Market, Akbari Mandi, Moti Bazaar, Soha Bazaar, Dabbi Bazaar, Waansan Wala Bazaar.

Rang Mahal Market, Kashmiri Bazaar, Dehli Bazaar, Lohari market, Neela Gunbad market, McLeod Road and Montgomery Road were partially open.

All Pakistan Truck Trolley Motors Association also observed wheel-jam strike against withholding tax (0.3 percent) and Punjab services tax (16 percent).

Truck stands at Bund Road, Ravi Road, Sabzazar Circular Road, Sarai Sultan, Sheranwala Akbari Mandi and Shah Aalmi remained closed for booking and transportation of goods. The transporters also took out a protest rally against the imposition of new taxes from Ravi Road Sabzi Mandi Truck Stand to Lahore Press Club.

Its president Lala Naseer and general secretary Abdul Mateen Sheikh, while talking to journalists, threatened a series of protests in front of PM House and Parliament building in Islamabad if the government would not take back new taxes.

While the business community particularly the wholesale markets rejected the federal government’s decision to impose levy on bank transactions, several trade and industrial associations’ representatives including All Pakistan Business Forum, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, FPCCI and Saarc Chamber have urged the government to withdraw the tax to avoid any confrontation.

All-Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran central general secretary Naeem Mir said the failed strike on August 5 damaged the cause of traders and encouraged the government who was pressurised by the countrywide shutterdown on August 1.

Mir said the traders have called a meeting of all trade bodies on 10th of this month to plan the next strategy, appealing the Khalid Pervaiz Group to also attend the meeting for greater cause of business community, so that all factions could unanimously make the future plan of traders struggle against unjust taxation.

It is to be noted that because of the new tax, people have already started using alternative means of payments, bypassing the banks, a development which will not only dent the government tax collection but also deprive the banks of their service charges.

Saarc Chamber vice president and FPCCI former president Iftikhar Ali Malik said the government would have to find out an amicable way to the issue of withholding tax on bank transactions in order to ensure a business-friendly atmosphere in the country.

All business-related decisions should be taken in consultation with the stakeholders as was being done in the developed countries, he urged.

LCCI former vice president Kashif Anwar said Finance Minister Ishaq Dar should take all trade and industry related decision in consultation with the business community which is backbone of the economy. “Imposition of new taxes would force business community to conduct its monetary transactions in cash that would promote the undocumented economy,” he feared.