LAHORE - The traders in Punjab has decided to observe shutter down strike against unwarranted taxation in federal budget in phases which has caused unrest among the business community as well as the general public.

The All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran, in a meeting also attended by its chairman Khawaja Shafiq, president Ajmal Baloch, central general secretary Naeem Mir and APAT district and divisional representatives of the provinces, have decided to launch a vigorous protest campaign against the unfriendly business measures of the present government, observing shutter down strike separately in different and major divisional headquarters in phases.

The traders have decided to go on shutter down strike first in Faisalabad on July 7 (Tuesday), said Naeem Mir while talking to The Nation. He said that all trade bodies including APAT and Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have unanimously decided to shut the markets, bazaars and all businesses in the city on Tuesday against the uncalled for taxation particularly the unjust tax on banking transaction. Rest of districts will make the plan of shut down after Faisalabad strike, he added.

Another faction of APAT has also given strike call in all Punjab districts on July 7 against the unwarranted taxation of the PML-N government.

Anjuman-e-Tajran President Khalid Pervez and central leader Abdul Razaq called for a complete shutdown of shops throughout the Punjab on July 7 to protest the implementation of 0.6-percent withholding tax on cash withdrawal by non-filers of income tax returns. Khalid Pervez said that the government must drop the decision and in case the tax is not withdrawn, there will be a complete shutter-down strike in the Punjab on Tuesday, July 7, he warned.

He, critising Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, said that withholding tax deduction is a serious blow to entire business activities and depositors are facing difficulties.

He said that from July 1 the tax has been implemented and under this every transaction of Rs 100,000, banks deduct Rs600. Because of this, the traders are making payments in hard cash.

APAT’s another group president Ashraf Bhatti said that if tax on all bank transactions is imposed forcefully, it would not only hamper the trade and economic activities but would also tarnish the image of the government. He said that imposition of this tax would force business community to conduct its monetary transactions in cash that would promote the undocumented economy.

The All Pakistan Business Forum (APBF), the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), Lahore Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), the Islamabad Chamber have already unanimously asked the government to withdraw tax on banking transactions immediately otherwise businessmen would be left with no other option but to close down their operations. They said that instead of taking such measures, government should bring the untaxed sectors into the tax net.

APAT general secretary Naeem Mir demanded the federal government to refrain from imposing this withholding tax and work towards providing relief to the industry and ultimately to the common man. Statistics show that only 791,000 individuals filed their tax returns in FY14, out of a population of 180 million people in Pakistan. This shows a really dismal picture, however it does not mean that the government can flog the poor man to pay for the rich man’s offenses. The government on one hand claims to be aware of the poor man’s plight and pledges to make every effort to control inflation, but on the other hand it is imposing such harsh new levies. Several trade associations and the business community are contemplating a protest strike on 7th July, 2015, against such unfair taxation.

The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPPCI) Regional Chairman FPCCI Kh Zarar Kaleem said that it was forced to conduct its monetary transactions through the banking system on account of dangers involved in cash handling due to the law and order situation but was being asked to pay tax merely for doing so.

Zarar Kaleem said that the representatives of traders and industry have opposed the government’s decision of taxing all the banking transactions as it may lead to promoting the culture of cash dealing, usage of non-banking channels besides hitting hard the genuine businesses.