Shutter-down protest in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad
Traders across Pakistan have staged a shutter-down strike because of which all major markets remained closed on Saturday.
The traders say they want the government to remove the new condition that traders must present their CNICs for purchases over Rs50,000. The protesting traders want to keep the government deadlock going because they want to pressure the government into accepting their demands.
In Karachi, a group of traders said it will proceed with the strike and shut down its businesses but another said it won’t be participating at all and will keep its shops and businesses open. The Tajir Action Committee is against the protest and will be proceeding with business as usual while the Markazi Tanzeem Tajiran has announced that it will shut down its businesses. The All City Tajir Ittehad disassociated itself from the protest earlier.
Many shops, however, remained closed in Saddar, Regal Market, Old City area, Tariq Road, Korangi Market, Electronics Market, Sarafa Bazaar, Clifton, Hyderi Market, Cooperative Market, Aurangzeb Market, Plaza Market, and Akbar Road Market.
The owners of the showrooms chose not to become a part of the protest and showrooms on New MA Jinnah Road, Khalid Bin Walid Road, and Sabzi Mandi were open for the public.
The traders in Jodia Bazaar said that they are not aware of the strike. Some shops in the wholesale medicine market were open too.
In Lahore, a complete shutter-down was observed at Shah Alam Market and Akbari Mandi, Hafeez Centre, Anarkali, Abid Market, Karim Block, and Moon Market. The shops on Mall Road, Hall Road, and Bedian Road were closed too. The car dealers are supporting the protest and they didn’t open their showrooms in the city.
Some shops Liberty, Azam Market and Urdu Bazaar were open, however.
All majors shops remained closed in Islamabad and Rawalpindi too.
There was no commercial activity in Rawalpindi’s Raza Bazaar, Saddar, Murree Road, Bara Market, Moti market, and Imperial Market. In Islamabad, all the shops in F-10 Market, Aabpara, and Blue Area remained closed.
Peshawar traders and shopkeepers didn’t open their shops in Shoba Bazaar, Khyber Bazaar, Qissa Khwani Bazaar, and Pipal Mandi.
The strike was observed in Quetta, Hyderabad, Nawabshah, Jacobabad, Tando Allahyar, Thatta, Sajawal, Dera Ghazi Khan, Faisalabad, Abbottabad, Malakand, Swabi, Swat, and Lower Dir. In Multan, the medicine market was closed because of which many patients complained that they haven’t been able to get their medicines.
The CNIC condition
During a press conference on Friday, FBR Chairperson Shabbar Zaidi said the CNIC condition is part of a larger drive against tax evasion because the government is running a massive budget deficit (more than Rs3000 billion) because of low tax revenue.
There are about 381,000 trading units that fall under sales tax jurisdiction, but only 47,000 of them are registered. Worse still, of the registered trading businesses, only 17,000 pay sales tax to the government. The government wants to change that equation by bringing more traders under the tax net.
Zaidi said there is no deadlock with any group or association of traders or industrialists but there is resistance because people don’t want to come under the tax net. He, however, added they will consider suggestions from traders while finalising the policy.