PESHAWAR: Several political parties and trader organisations on Wednesday held rallies and corner meetings against the federal government’s budget for the next fiscal and warned they would hold a series of demonstrations if the proposals to additional taxes in 2019-20 weren’t withdrawn.
Activists of Pakhtunkhwa Jamhoori Ittehad, an alliance of Pakhtun nationalist parties, held a rally and set up a protest camp outside the Peshawar Press Club to protest what they called the government’s poor economic policies, increase in consumer prices, and additional taxes on employees.
Led by PJI convener Sikandar Hayat Khan Sherpao, the protesters held placards and banners, shouted slogans against the government, and demanded the withdrawal of the proposals of imposing additional taxes and increasing household items.
Political leaders Afzal Shah Khamosh, Shahab Khattak and Ajmal Afridi were also present on the occasion.
The speakers rejected the federal budget declaring it the people’s ‘economic genocide’.
They said the budget was made by the people, who had nothing to do with the nation’s interests to meet the conditions for the International Monitory Funds bailout package.
The speakers said the imposition of GST on food items was an unjust step as it would multiply the misery of the poor people, while additional taxes would squeeze the salaried class’s purchasing power.
“We reject the anti-people federal budget altogether as it has been made in the IMF secretariat. Our protest against it will continue,” Mr Sikandar said.
He resented reduction in education and healthcare funding in the next fiscal and said the additional taxes would add to the sufferings of the common man already hit hard by growing prices.
Mr Sikandar criticised the premier for claiming that people don’t pay taxes.
“The entire nation is paying multiple taxes but no one in power is acknowledging it,” he said.
He said the people rejected the ‘IMF policies’ being pursued in the country and would continue holding rallies against them and the incompetent rulers.
The other speakers said the budget would produce a new wave of inflation in the country.
They also rejected the proposed 10 per cent pay raise for government employees and called for increasing salaries in proportion to inflation rate.
The speakers flayed the ruling PTI for not honouring its election promises of people’s development and reforms.
Also, the representatives of various trader associations held a meeting with Markazee Anjuman-i-Tajiran provincial president Haji Sharafat Ali Mubarak in the chair.
The participants expressed concern about new taxes and increase in consumer prices announced by the government and feared that under the current circumstances, the revenue, export and import targets won’t be met and thus, increasing the people’s problems.
They demanded the withdrawal of additional taxes and check on inflation and sought relief for the business community in the militancy-hit areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The participants warned that the people would continue with protests if relief wasn’t provided to them in the next fiscal.
Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2019