LAHORE               -               The Pakistan Industrial and Traders Associations Front has appreciated the government for fulfilling demands of traders by granting them a number of concessions. Commenting on the agreement reached between the government and the small traders over the mechanism to register the businesses for taxation, PIAF Chairman Mian Nauman Kabir said the businessmen only want ease of doing business by removing all official as well as systemic impediments.

Under the agreement, committees had been formed at district and sub-district levels comprising two members from the traders and one from the government, which would assist the registration of small traders for their inclusion in the tax system, which is a right step in the right direction, he said. “Its good news for the traders that the standard rate of minimum tax has been reduced from 1.5 to 0.5 percent and traders having turnover of up to Rs100 million shall not be required to act as a withholding agent,” he added.

The PIAF chairman, in a joint statement along with the senior vice chairman Nasir Hameed and vice chairman Javed Iqbal, said that the government has accepted the major demand of the business community to change the basic structure and design of the tax with the help of stakeholders for documentation of the economy. He also welcomed the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan to abolish around 150 licenses required for various business activities at the local level in a bid to provide relief to the small traders.

According to reports, the PM has directed the provincial governments to eliminate 74 different licenses of this nature to simplify the procedure of mandatory licenses and introduce an automated system by using modern technology. PIAF chairman, expressing concern about the complex licensing regime, said the requirement of licenses for businesses like grocery, cloth and bakery is equal to creating difficulties for the common man. He demanded the government to complete the process of eliminating unnecessary licenses in 30 days as per directives of the PM.

Mian Nauman Kabir said the traders’ community is now moving towards a new destination after fulfillment of their demands and their subsequent documentation in response to concessions granted to them by the government. PIAF Senior Vice Chairman Nasir Hameed said that traders are ready to pay taxes as it is the only way to develop the country and if the government does not collect taxes, the entire nation would go down and everyone would suffer, he said. He termed the agreement between traders and government’s economic team a welcome step but warned that there are deficiencies in the tax machinery, which should be removed at the earliest.

PIAF Vice Chairman Javed Iqbal lamented that half of the tax collection is consumed in debt servicing, urging the government to first start its own belt-tightening and reduce expenditures, as business community was reluctant to pay tax because of lack of trust in the system because taxpayers’ money is misused largely.

He said that government top priority should be to facilitate the trade and industry because increase in businesses is critical for creating new employment opportunities in the country. He pledged that PIAF will continue its support for the government in its endeavor to widen the tax net, terming the taxation a key for reviving the national economy.