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GUJRAT: As the Gujrat Municipal Corporation has decided to impose ‘heavy’ taxes on trade and industry in its coming budget, the local business community has rejected the move as highly unjustified.

According to the plan, furniture, electric fans, banquet halls, restaurants and other manufacturing units will have to pay Rs30,000 annual tax whereas traders will pay up to Rs10,000 per year.

Though the corporation is yet to get approval from the house as well as the local government department, the business fraternity, particularly the furniture and electric fan industries, has decided to oppose the proposed taxes tooth and nail.

Ali Ansar Ghuman, the president of the furniture manufacturers association, said that out of some 300 manufacturing units an overwhelming majority of the furniture makers worked as cottage industry and could not afford such a big levy by a civic body.

According to him, most of the cottage industry is located in small shops along Railway Road, Sargodha Road and Shadiwal Road.

Similarly, the electric fan manufacturers have also rejected the new levy. The MC has proposed Rs 30,000 annually on those fan units which have more than 100 workers, Rs 20,000 for those who have below 100 workers and Rs10,000 for those units which have 5 to 50 workers.

Two factions of the Markazi Anjuman Tajaran have strongly opposed the move in their separate meetings and threatened strike. Javed Butt, president of the traders association, led a demonstration against the new taxes and warned of more street protests in future.

An MC official told Dawn that the civic authorities had actually been asked by the Punjab government to generate their own financial resources by imposing taxes.

MC chief officer Afzal Butt says a new schedule of taxes has been proposed for 210 different categories from trade and industry. “Since the local government department will vet it before a final approval from the corporation, the rate of new taxes can be negotiated with the representatives of the trade and industry in the meantime.”

He said Mayor Haji Nasir Mehmood would hold talks with traders in this regard.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2017