ISLAMABAD: Traders have threatened to launch a nationwide protest if the government imposes a fresh wave of taxes to fulfil International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) conditions and demanded that the government instead cut salaries of army generals, judges and parliamentarians.
Talking to the media in Islamabad on Saturday, representatives of the Markazi Tanzeem Tajiran (Central Organisation of Traders) of Pakistan said they would launch a protest movement across the country from Feb 13 if new taxes were introduced.
The organisation’s leaders warned the rulers that the country’s economic situation had left no room for burdening the general public and the trading community with more duties.
They expressed dismay that the state of the economy of a nuclear country was in dire straits and the situation was worsening with each passing day, and said that the public should not suffer because of the “flaws or crimes committed by the leaders of this country”.
“Our reaction will be severe if more taxes worth billions of rupees were imposed, as being reported in the media,” Kashif Chaudhry, the organisation’s president, said, asking the stakeholders, including the ruling elites, to make “sane decisions” if they want to improve the economy.
Call for reducing salaries of army generals, judges and parliamentarians
Calling for a reduction in expenses incurred on the president, prime minister, legislators, judges, army officers and bureaucrats should be reduced, Mr Chaudhry said the government should cut all “non-productive expenditures” immediately by half.
The traders’ representatives demanded the government formulate long-term and short-term economic policies and should ensure income tax collection from all sectors instead of imposing billions in taxes.
“I assure the government that the business community was ready to contribute to steering the country out of the current economic crises and we traders are ready to pay fixed taxes,” he said.
Khawaja Salman Siddiqui, the organisation’s chairman, said criticised Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who he said was brought in by the PML-N to control the economy and stop the rupee’s downfall, but he failed to do the job.
Mr Siddiqui said putting an artificial cap on the dollar’s rate led to a wide gap between the interbank and open market rates, and despite the demand to remove the cap, Mr Dar “remained stubborn and did not listen to anybody”.
Other speakers called for the implementation of the decision of the Federal Shariat Court to make Pakistan’s economy interest-free to “eradicate exploitation in the system”.
However, they also suggested an amnesty scheme to let the rich bring their foreign wealth home; the government can then take loans from these affluent people and give them profits instead of taking loans from the IMF and the World Bank on harsh conditions.
Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2023
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