Call of strike: Traders observe country wide protest against inflation and unfair taxes. Click on the link to see full news on BAADBAN TV

A massive shutter-down strike is being observed across Pakistan today on the call of traders’ bodies against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led federal government for ‘unfair taxes and ineffective economic policies.’

ISLAMABAD 

In Islamabad for the first time strike has been called out. Abpara Market completely shutterdown. Jinnah Super, Super Market closed. Small markets of sectors are opened.

LAHORE 

There ShamlI market, Urdu Bazar, Gawalmandi Mandi, Ramghar Bazar, Shalimar, Baghbanpura all shutters down.

Most traders’ associations and organisations in the city were unanimous on Friday to observe shutter down strike on Saturday (today) in protest against the taxes imposed by the federal government in budget 2019-20.

As preparatory arrangement, All Pakistan Anjuman Tajiran (APAT), Qaumi Tajir Ittehad, Lahore Business Front, All Pakistan Truck Trailer Owners Association, Jewelers Association, Auto Dealers Association and all other trade bodies of the city held emergency meetings on Friday in a bid to make the event successful.

KARACHI

various market based bodies had united on one platform to give a tough response against the budget.

To gain support of Karachi traders, President MTTP Kashif Chaudhry held a press conference at Karachi Press Club on Thursday, soliciting support from traders for the strike call.

Kashif claimed to have received support from representatives of over 400 markets of Karachi which included Saddar, Tariq Road, Clifton, Defence, Liaquatabad, M.A. Jinnah Road markets, Gul Plaza, Timber and furniture markets, iron and steel markets, auto parts, cloth markets, Landhi, Korangi, Malir and Garden Area markets.

Contrary to this, representatives of the KTAC on Friday announced their deviation from Saturday’s countrywide shut down.

At a hurriedly called press conference at Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Friday, KTAC members vowed to keep their markets and shops open.

Giving details, one of the members of KTAC, Mohammad Sharjeel Gopalani claimed that “95 per cent of Karachi markets will remain open on Saturday.”

“There is no pressure of any kind on KTAC members for opening the markets,” he said, adding that the government was willing to talk to the traders and the latest round of talks had gone well. However, he did not specify who the government had sent to deal with the traders.

“Our negotiations with the government representatives on Thursday have been successful in which 10 out of the 11 demands have been agreed by the officials.”

Only the CNIC issue has been left on which Member Tax Policy Inland Revenue had clarified in detail in print media on Friday.

He said government officials had agreed to resolve the issues by arranging meetings of KTAC members with National Tariff Commission (NTC), Member Inland Revenue FBR, Commerce Ministry and Finance Ministry since for many matters the FBR needs to coordinate with these departments.

Another member of the KTAC, Ahmed Shamsi said markets including Jama Cloth, Medicine market, Bohri Bazar Saddar, Sarafa Market, used car dealers showrooms, Light House, Khalid Bin Waleed Road, Jodia Bazar, Timber Market, Iron and Steel Market, Ranchore Line, Lee Market, Lyari area markets, Hyderi markets, Gulf Shopping Centre at Clifton, few markets of Tariq Road and Liaquatabad market will remain open on Saturday.

“I am sure that 65-70pc markets of Karachi will do their business as usual,” he claimed adding some market traders are trying to mislead the trading community, thus pressuring traders to close their businesses amid ongoing negotiations with the government.

In contrast, President Karachi Electronic Dealers Association (KEDA), Mohammad Rizwan Irfan, who was one of the main members of KTAC, said the electronic market intended to observe the strike

Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sahiwal, Khanewal, Rawalpindi and other districts were reported to observe strike called for Saturday (today). However, Lahore-based Pakistan Traders Alliance (PTA) announced to not become part of the strike. “When the FBR people have removed our concerns in writing, why should we observe the strike,” said PTA chairman Nasir Hameed.

Punjab government, after seven-hour long negotiations with trade representatives on Friday, agreed to remove the CNIC-based invoicing for transactions valued below Rs50,000.

A press release issued by the Office of the Minister for Industries, Commerce, Investment and Skills Development Department Punjab said the Federal Board of Revenue Chairman Shabbar Zaidi was taken on board during the negotiations who agreed to reduce tax on ghee from seven per cent to 2pc.

The CNIC condition would only be imposed on dealers who buy goods directly from factories whereas those falling under the ‘Fix Tax Net’ will be excluded the condition, the release added.

However, a rift emerged amongst traders in Karachi as one group supported the call of strike, whereas the other decided to keep their shutters open.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran has challenged the chairman of the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR), Shabbar Zaidi, for a debate over the claim that some political party has pushed traders for the strike

BAADBAN REPORT