PESHAWAR: The Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Friday demanded of the government to end lockdown, release payment of refunds under the head of income tax and remove hurdles to trade activities with Afghanistan.

According to a statement, these demands were made during a video link conference held here at the chamber. It was presided over by SCCI president Maqsood Anwar Pervaiz and attended by representatives of traders, industrialists and exporters/importers.

The participants also included SCCI senior vice-president Shahid Hussain, vice-president Abdul Jalil Jan, former FPCCI president Ghazanfar Bilour, former chamber presidents, former chairman All Pakistan Commercial Exporters Association Manzoor Elahi, Industrialists Association Hayatabad, Peshawar, president Zarak Khan and SCCI executive body members.

The participants asked the government to release payment of refunds on account of income tax to the business community without delay. They urged the government to formulate business-friendly policies by making proper consultation with relevant stakeholders.

The speakers demanded 24/7 opening of Pak-Afghan border and removal of hurdles to trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Tobacco farmers urge authorities to save industry

The participants said that if the government didn’t pay heed to their demands they would announce future course of action during a press conference on June 2 at the chamber house.

They said that Covid-19 pandemic had virtually crippled the country’s economy and businesses activities, saying that the lockdown had added to traders’ issues.

They said that the business community had extended full cooperation to the government during the prolonged lockdown. However, they said the government should also ease policies to restore businesses activities under the SOPs.

Maqsood Pervaiz said that the business community was facing severe financial problems and in case the restrictions to open shops remained in place thousands of workers would lose their jobs. He demanded an end to the ongoing lockdown.

Meanwhile, tobacco farmers and industrial workers demanded of the federal government not to increase tax and save thousands of jobs and local industry.

“We demand the PTI government not to increase the existing advance tax on tobacco,” according to a statement issued here on Friday by the representatives of industrial workers and farmers of the province.

The request was made by Mehnat Kash Labour Federation president Abrar Ullah, Kisan Board Pakistan president Rizwanullah, Sarhad Agricultural and Rural Development Organization president Haji Abdul Nabi Mohmand, Tahaffuz Haqooq Kashtkaran president Liaquat Yousafzai and others.

They said that multinational companies were trying their best that the government increased the advance tax on tobacco, which would annihilate the local industry and help establish their monopoly.

They said that the local tobacco industry was providing over 20,000 jobs whereas the multinationals were known for throwing people out of jobs.

The statement said that there were over 22 small companies in the province which were producing 98 per cent of tobacco crop in areas, including Buner, Mansehra, Mardan, Charsadda and Swabi districts.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2020