LAHORE   -    Business community has reiterated the resolve to observe the countrywide shutter down strike on Saturday (today) to protest against ‘unfair high taxes’ imposed in federal budget 2019-20.

Addressing a press conference at Lahore Press Club on Friday, All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran general secretary Naeem Mir hoped that the strike would be countrywide, from Karachi to Khyber and Kashmir to Gawadar.

Flanked by leaders of different markets including Amjad Ch, Waqar Ahmed Mian, Haji Hanif, Malik Amanat, Sohail Mehmood Butt, Imran Bashir, Sheikh Irfan Iqbal, Mian Tahir Subhani, Malik Farooq Hafiz, Agha Zulfiqar, Syed Azmat Shah and Malik Kaleem, Naeem Mir said that the traders would not negotiate with the government till the withdrawal of unfair taxes. He lamented the government was trying to divide the business community instead of addressing their grievances. He claimed that Qaumi Tajir Ittehad, Lahore Businessmen Front of LCCI, All Pakistan Truck Trawla Owners Association, Jewelers Association, Auto Dealers Association and all other trade bodies were supporting the countrywide strike. He said the decision of shutter down strike was not that of APAT alone as over three million traders from across the country was participating for the common cause. “It will be country’s biggest shutter down strike. In Lahore, we will ensure complete shutter down on Saturday,” he said. He said that imposition of unjustified 17 percent sales tax, turn over tax and CNIC-based invoicing system had made it impossible for the community to continue businesses. He warned the government of strike for indefinite period if the said taxes and conditions were not withdrawn. He said that FBR was not ready to listen to the traders while people were also facing difficulties to make both ends meet due to inflation.

He demanded Prime Minister Imran Khan intervene and resolve the issues through negotiation with the stakeholders.

Lahore Businessmen Front chairman Amjad Ch said that the community had rejected the budget prepared by bureaucracy on the instructions of International Monetary Fund.

He was of the view that without bringing any reforms in FBR, government has handed over budget matters to the IMF. He said that increase in dollar price has brought a new wave of inflation in the country. He said imposition of new taxes has created restlessness in the business community. He appealed the traders to observe shutter down on Saturday not only for the protection of their interests but also to save the national economy. He said that FBR Chairman had been advising people on how to avoid tax payment and now he wanted to bring them into tax net within days, which was not feasible.

Meanwhile, the Kissan Board Pakistan announced supporting shutter down strike on Saturday (today).

KBP Central President Ch Nisar Ahmad said that the Board would also be meeting on July 18 to finalise charter of demands and give final shape to the protest movement.

Addressing a convention of office-bearers of Northern Punjab on Friday, he said that the board would extend full support to traders protesting against unjustified taxes. Ch Shaukat Ali Chadhhar, Razzaq Farooq and Aman Ullah Chattha also addressed the event.

Ch Nisar said that prices of fertilizers, electricity, seed and agricultural implement had been increased, damaging 80 per cent of the population depending on agriculture. He said that representatives of the farmers have been directed to field their own candidate on each and every local body seat. He claimed that all small farmers’ organizations had merged themselves with the KBP.