LAHORE  -   All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran (APAT) central general secretary Naeem Mir on Saturday announced that traders have refused to submit tax returns of 2019 until acceptance of their genuine demands. And if our demands are not fulfilled traders might start drive not to submit their commercial power bills.

He congratulated the traders community for successful shutter down strike across the country, which indicates that the traders issues are genuine and they want their solution through dialogues.

He was addressing the business community at Faisal Chowk along with other trade leaders. “We are in favour of dialogues and we are ready to hold dialogues with PM Imran Khan,” he stated.

He suggested that the noted chartered accountant from Karachi Ashfaq Tola, who was also the chief of the anomaly committee of the FBR, can assist the PM in dialogue process with the traders. He said that our demands are genuine and true and we will fight till the end for the redressal of our issues. We will decide next procedure of action after consultation with other groups of traders which may include long march to FBR office, sit-in and shutter down strike for indefinite period.

Leaders of different markets 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– were also present there. He said that the traders would not negotiate with the government until the withdrawal of the unfair taxes. He lamented that the government was trying to divide the business community instead of resolving their issues.

He said that imposition of unjustified 17 per cent sales tax, turn over tax and CNIC-based invoicing system had made it impossible for the community to run the businesses. He warned the government of strike for an indefinite period if the said taxes and conditions were not withdrawn. He said that FBR was not ready to listen to the traders due to which trading community was worried while people were also facing huge inflation.

He demanded that Prime Minister Imran Khan in consultation with traders should announce forthwith amendments in the budget, otherwise traders would go for complete shutter down for an extended period. He was of the view that without bringing any reforms in FBR, the government has handed over budget matters to the IMF. He said that an increase in dollar price has brought a new wave of inflation in the country, while the imposition of new taxes in the budget has also created concerns in the business community.

Meanwhile, The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Saturday urged the government to invite the protesting traders for talks and accept their genuine demands. LCCI acting president Khawaja Shahzad Nasir and vice president Fahim-ur-Rehman Sehgal, in their media statement here, said the government should show motherly behaviour in paying heed to the business community’s issues including condition of attaching copy of the CNICs of buyers, final tax regime and abolition of zero-rating facility for export-oriented sectors and all those factors affecting the trade activities in the country.

They said that the country could not afford any sort of chaos, anarchy and instability in the prevailing economic challenges, asserting that no country could achieve economic goals unless the government took the business community on board and consult all other stakeholders.

The government, they added, must implement the LCCI proposal of fixed taxation under A, B, C and D categories as being implemented in Islamabad.

The LCCI office-bearers mentioned that abolition of zero-rating facility had created numerous problems for the export sector; therefore, the government must review this decision. Traders of a number of markets in the provincial capital observed strike, though many markets including Abid Market, some markets on Multan Road and markets and bazaars in major populated areas of the city remained opened on Saturday.