Our staff reporter


As the rounds of talks continued between the Federal Board of Revenue and traders on the issue of WHT on banking transactions the business community has asked the government to find a way out to resolve the issue wisely and amicably with the consultation of traders purely in national interest.

SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice president and FPCCI former president Iftikhar Malik said that though expansion of tax net is need of the hour but the government should have to find a way out to bring the untaxed sectors into the tax net. He said that measures like imposition of withholding tax on bank transactions would not be doing any service to the economy as it has been observed that tax collection machinery has no authentic data to specify difference between filers and non-filers.

The United Business Group (UBG) chairman, who contacted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and conveyed traders’ concern over imposition of withholding tax, urging them to review the matter for an amicable resolution.

He said the traders’ community is the backbone of the economy and always played an important role in the country’s progress and development. He said the government is using all available resources to make the country a hub of economic activities.

He said that traders have shown apprehensions that the FBR would start questioning the source of income and their assets, particularly the paid-up capital, which they cannot justify, once they come under the tax net by filing income tax returns. He sought an amnesty scheme for small traders besides seeking a fixed income tax rate aimed at avoiding the complexities of the country’s outdated tax system.

He 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.

Ferozepur Road Welfare Industrial Organization (FRWO) former chairman Adeeb Iqbal Sheikh stated that the constitution of committees by the Federal Board of Revenue in the name of facilitating the traders is not working. “The government should pay attention to the real cause of concern.”

This kind of indirect tax will have a multiplied impact on the transactions. It is hampering the banking transactions and using formal money transactions’ channels,” Adeeb Iqbal added. He said this tax has not only decreased the economic activity but also encouraged the people to handle all their transactions in cash to avoid taxes. It has also hampered the government’s efforts of expanding the tax net.

Adeeb Iqbal said it was also not understandable that the government had levied this tax simultaneously on filers and non-filers. So those who are registered and filing their tax returns and contributing to the national exchequers have to face this harsh tax as well.

PML-N Traders Wing Lahore general secretary Shahid Nazir said the business community appreciated the Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif for taking up this matter with PM and Finance Minister Dar and hoped the CM’s personal interest for early solution would yield positive results. “A good gesture by the chief minister is an ample proof of his commitment with trade and industry,” he added.

He said that the economy is well on the track and cannot afford any confrontation between the government and the business community which is backbone of the economy.