PESHAWAR: The owners of flour millers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have announced to shut their mills for three days on July 17 to protest imposition of 17 per cent general sale tax on wheat products.

“The government has imposed 17 per cent GST on wheat products including bran (Chokar) against its promise that taxes will not be imposed on the food commodities like flour, ghee, cooking oil. It has forced us to observe strike for acceptance of our demands,” Naeem Butt, the president of All Pakistan Flour Mills Association, told journalists here on Tuesday.

He said that there was no precedent of imposing GST on wheat or bran in the country but the present government imposed tax on these products through Finance

Act, 2019. He said that it would directly hit all flour products and their prices would automatically rise enormously. Mr Butt said that the chairman of Federal Board of Revenue had promised many times to exempt wheat flour and cooking oil from taxes but he was yet to materialise his commitment.

He said that the tax on wheat bran would increase the price of 20-kilogram bag of flour by Rs30 to Rs50 that would subsequently affect the poor consumers.

He said that of the total 240 flour mills in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, only 100 were operational.

Mr Butt said that the owners were compelled to close down mills due to wrong economic policies of the government. He urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to withdraw 17 per cent GST on wheat bran.

He said that the flour millers were united to protest imposition of GST on wheat bran and decided to shut their mills for three days from July 17 to July 19. It would definitely create shortage of flour in the market.

Mr Butt said that APFMA had convened its general body meeting on July 20 in Lahore to decide future course of action.

Earlier, an emergency meeting of the provincial chapter of All Pakistan Flour Mills Association was held in Peshawar with its chairman Mohammad Tariq in the chair that endorsed the decision of strike.

Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2019