Traders end countrywide strike after reaching agreement with govt

October 30, 2019

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Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh addresses a press conference on Wednesday to announce successful negotiations with business community. — DawnNewsTV
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh addresses a press conference on Wednesday to announce successful negotiations with business community. — DawnNewsTV

The business community on Wednesday called off the countrywide shutter-down strike after reaching an eleven-point agreement with the government.

The strike, which started on Tuesday, was held against the imposition of taxes, and presenting a CNIC copy for buying and selling goods up to Rs50,000.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, flanked by Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Shabbar Zaidi and PTI stalwart Jahangir Tareen, announced the agreement at a press conference in Islamabad.

According to the agreement, the computerised national identity card (CNIC) condition for Rs50,000 purchase will remain intact but any action against its violation has been suspended till January 31, 2020.

The two sides agreed that traders with an annual turnover of Rs100 million would have to pay Rs0.5 per cent of the turnover instead of 1.5pc of the turnover and that the same traders would not become withholding agents.

The limit of electricity bill for registration in sales tax register was increased to Rs1.2 million from Rs600,000.

Under the agreement, the government also agreed to review the rate of turnover tax for sectors with low profit ratio. The review in this regard will be carried out in consultations with a committee of traders. The two sides also agreed to resolve the issues of jewelers on priority basis and in consultation with their associations.

The withholding tax on renewal of brokers' license will also be reviewed.

The adviser also announced that under the agreement, the government will establish an exclusive cell at FBR, Islamabad to resolve the issues of traders on immediate basis. The head of the cell will be a grade 21 or 22 officer who will maintain contact with traders on monthly basis.

The two sides also agreed that the government would introduce simple forms in Urdu language for registration of new traders and income tax returns filing, while the traders bodies will offer full cooperation in the registration of new businesses.

Under the agreement, the government will consult with the traders committee for decision to grant exemption in sales tax to a 1,000 square feet shop. Similarly, the government will take traders onboard for decision about inclusion of those retailers who are also engaged in wholesales business in the sales tax register.