Industry, trade divided on today’s strike



Industrialists will go on strike on Wednesday (today) against the Federal Bureau of Revenue for issuing sales tax notices to the industry.

However, the Anjuman-i-Tajran City, a main representative body of Clock Tower bazaar and markets, will not join the protest.

The FBR officials have declared the strike unjustified and said they had detected sales tax evasion to the tune of Rs1,188 million and registered eight cases against some businessmen.

Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FCCI) in a handout on Tuesday said: “Various trade bodies have announced shutterdown strike on Wednesday to protest against the ‘harassment’ of business community by abusing Section 38 and 40-B of the Sales Tax.”

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, FCCI Taxation Committee Chairman Talat Mahmood said in December last, the Regional Tax Office (RTO) requested the textile processing industry to enhance sales tax.

He said after a series of meetings a procedure was decided for the enhancement.

Under this agreement, he said the local industrialists paid Rs55 million and the officials fully capitalised on this enhancement and got promotions.

However, the RTO took a U-turn and instead of implementing the agreed strategy to broaden the tax net started ‘teasing’ the millers.

He said in some cases industrialists were summoned to the RTO office where they were ‘forced to pay exorbitant tax at gunpoint’.

Talat Mahmood alleged that the tax officials were creating harassment among the business community.

He said: “The businessmen are ready to pay taxes without harassment as tax officials have been deployed at the factories.”

Earlier, section 40-B was invoked against only textile processing units and now the clause was being used against bakeries, manufacturers of agricultural appliances and small traders as well, he said.

FCCI President Rizwan Ashraf said nobody would be allowed to create harassment among the business community.

The FBR officials said during an investigation into the issue of sales tax evasion, they had detected that some firms had not shown their real production.

They said FBR had managed to collect Rs318 million from five defaulters and efforts were being made to recover the remaining amount.

They said the protest call by the industrialists was unjustified and tantamount to pressurising the FBR.

Talking to Dawn, Anjuman-i-Tajran City President Shahid Razzaq Sakka said none of the trader would go on strike today (Wednesday) along with the industrialists. He said the FCCI office-bearers, All Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association and traders held a meeting on Sunday to devise a strategy on strike against the FBR officials.

During the discussion, he said the traders had informed the industrialists that issuance of the sales tax notices had nothing to do with them (traders), however, they would join hands with them if they would also close their factories.

He said traders had also asked them on Sunday to set one-week deadline for the FBR prior to going for the strike. He said the traders had also asked them to ensure that the factories of FCCI National Group chairman, Javeed Iqbal, director of Sitara Industries, would also be closed.

Sakka said instead of following a realistic approach the FCCI president had convened a press conference without informing the traders, and announced the strike.

“We have also intimated the district administration, including Commissioner Tasneem Nawaz, that traders would not go for strike,” he said.




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