OUR STAFF REPORTER LAHORE Brick kiln owners association (Anjuman-e-Malikan Bhatta Khasht Pakistan) has announced to suspend supply of bricks for three days from June 22 to 24 in protest against imposition of Sales Tax on bricks in budget 2011-12. Associations president Shuaib Khan Niazi, while addressing a Press conference here at Lahore Press Club on Sunday, declared that they will stop the supply of bricks completely all over the country as Sales Tax was unjustified. If the tax is not withdrawn, brick kilns business will be halted for an unlimited period from July 1, he threatened. He said that presently the bricks are being sold for Rs4000 per 1000 bricks and if sales tax is imposed the rate will be increased by Rs650 per 1000 bricks. He argued that after sales tax on bricks the development budget will also be increased manifold which is harmful for the government itself. He said that there is no criteria to implement tax on kilns, rather it will rise the corruption and tax mafia will find another way to do corruption. He said that this is a risky business as just one rainfall causes a loss of around Rs400,000 to one kiln, as raw bricks get damaged. It is to be noted that the bricks which were available at Rs3,800 to Rs4,000 per 1,000 pieces, have now gone up to Rs5,000 in flooded areas while in Lahore these are being sold at Rs5,500 per 1000 pieces with very limited availability. The local residents who are currently involved in construction matters told The Nation that they were facing trouble due to unavailability of building material particularly bricks, as most of the bricks kilns have diverted their supply to flood-hit cities of southern Punjab for more profit. They are increasing rates on daily basis and there is no one to check them. The cement dealers are selling their material in black, as no price control committee of neither the Punjab government nor the district government is available to control this dreadful activity of the traders. The prices of building material particularly of cement have witnessed a sharp increase all over the country, as cement cartel, bricks kiln owners and hoarders have become active, adding to the sufferings of the flood-hit people, who have started reconstruction of their homes in their respective areas. The cement and bricks unavailability has hit the provincial capital, as the citizens who are currently busy in constructing their homes, are finding it difficult to get the material even at inflated rates. The rates of cement, the most important component of the building material, has jumped to Rs400 per 50kg bag from Rs300, while the same bag is being sold at Rs450 in flood-affected areas of the Southern Punjab and Sindh. Likewise steel rates are continuing to rise alarmingly as it has been risen to Rs6,000 per ton, up by about 6 per cent in just a couple of weeks. Experts said the steel prices would go up further due to constant increase in demand following the rehabilitation work in affected areas.