ISLAMABAD - The government on Thursday once again refused to withdraw withholding tax on the banking transactions as demanded by the traders of the country.

Talks between government and traders remained unsuccessful on the issue of withholding tax on banking transactions. The government side was led by Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

An official of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) who attended the meeting told The Nation that Finance Minister has made it clear to the traders that withholding tax on banking transactions could not be withdrawn for the non-filers, as it is helping in broadening of the tax base of the country. He asked the traders to become the tax filers if they want to avoid the withholding tax, the official added.

The first round of talks remained inconclusive. The second round of talks was continued between the officials of the FBR and traders and no development was made till filing of this news story.

The PML-N government in budget 2015-16 had imposed 0.6 percent withholding tax on banking transactions for non-tax filers. However, traders across the country reacted on the tax by saying government should withdraw the controversial tax. Later, after negotiations, the government and business community in July this year struck an agreement to reduce the withholding tax on banking transactions to 0.3 percent from 0.6 percent. The government under the agreement gave an opportunity to those businessmen who were non-filers to become filers in three months (July to September). Later, the government has extended the time period for another one month (October).