TRADERS ACROSS PAKISTAN OBSERVE STRIKE AGAINST WITHHOLDING TAX

NATURAL WITH URDU SPEECH

DURATION: 2.55

SOURCE: REUTERS

TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS: NONE

Traders across Pakistan observe strike against withholding tax

Traders and business community in Pakistan observe a countrywide shutter-down strike against the imposition of withholding tax on banking transactions.

SHOWS:

KARACHI, PAKISTAN (SEPTEMBER 09, 2015) (REUTERS – ACCESS ALL)

1. CLOSED MARKET DURING SHUTTER-DOWN STRIKE

2. POLICE VAN PATROLLING CLOSED MARKET

3. CLOSED SHUTTERS OF SHOPS

4. LOCKS ON SHOP SHUTTERS

5. BANNERREADING (IN URDU): “COUNTRY-WIDE SHUTTER DOWN STRIKE.”

6. VARIOUS OF CLOSED MARKETS

7. LOCK ON SHOP

8. (SOUNDBITE) (Urdu) GENERAL SECRETARY, SINDH TRADERS UNION, ISMAIL LALPURIA, SAYING:”Today’s strike is against the withholding tax, and there is a total shutter-down across Pakistan because all groups have become united. They have all come onto one platform. This tax is not acceptable to us under any circumstances. We will not let it be accepted under any circumstances. We totally reject it.”

LAHORE, PAKISTAN (SEPTEMBER 09, 2015) (REUTERS – ACCESS ALL)

9. TRADERS GATHERED OUTSIDE CLOSED SHOPS

10. LARGE BANNER READING (IN URDU): “COUNTRYWIDE STRIKE AGAINST ANTI-TRADE BLACK LAW OF 0.3 % WITHHOLDING TAX.”

11. VARIOUS OF CLOSED SHOPS

12. LOCK ON SHOP

13. TRADERS UNION LEADERS ADDRESSING MEDIA

14. (SOUNDBITE) (Urdu) PRESIDENT, ALL PAKISTAN TRADERS ASSOCIATION, ASHRAF BHATTI, SAYING:”We want to make it clear to the government that they should accept this legal demand of the traders. This will benefit them, as well as us. We will be able to carry out our businesses happily and in peace. At this point in time, banking has come to a standstill. No one is going to the banks, no one is depositing anything. Our business is also going downhill. If trade is going to continue to suffer like this, then we will have no qualms about observing strikes. Instead of one strike, we will start continuous strikes.”

15. VARIOUS OF CLOSED MARKETS

16. LOCKS ON SHOP SHUTTERS

17. (SOUNDBITE) (Urdu) GENERAL SECRETARY, TRADERS UNION OF PAKISTAN, HAJI TAHER NAVEED, SAYING:”Today, on September 09, we have observed a strike across the whole of Pakistan. From Karachi to Peshawar, from Lahore to Quetta, all markets and big and small businesses are closed. This strike is a warning to the government to withdraw the withholding tax. If the government does not take the withholding tax back, we will hold wheel-jam strikes and sit-ins across the country.”

18. MORE OF CLOSED SHOPS

STORY: On a call from the All Pakistan Traders’ Association, the business community in Pakistan observed a complete shutter-down strike, halting business activities across the country on Wednesday (September 09) against the imposition of withholding tax on banking transactions of over 50,000 rupees for non-filers of income tax returns.

Traders say the imposition of 0.3 percent withholding tax on all bank transactions is unjustified and will burden the trade fraternity.

In Karachi, Jodiya Bazar, the main market of wholesalers, medicine market, old city area and other busy commercial areas remained completed shuttered down the whole day.

“Today’s strike is against the withholding tax, and there is a total shutter-down across Pakistan because all groups have become united. They have all come onto one platform. This tax is not acceptable to us under any circumstances. We will not let it be accepted under any circumstances. We totally reject it,” said Ismail Lalpuria, general secretary of Sindh Traders Union.

According to media reports, markets in Faisalabad, Multan, Lahore and Quetta also remained closed.

Trader union leaders in Lahore held a news conference in a closed market square.

“We want to make it clear to the government that they should accept this legal demand of the traders. This will benefit them, as well as us. We will be able to carry out our businesses happily and in peace. At this point in time, banking has come to a standstill. No one is going to the banks, no one is depositing anything. Our business is also going downhill. If trade is going to continue to suffer like this, then we will have no qualms about observing strikes. Instead of one strike, we will start continuous strikes,” said Ashraf Bhatti, president of All Pakistan Traders Association.

Other traders also warned the government of heightened agitations across the country if their demand was not accepted.

“Today, on September 09, we have observed a strike across the whole of Pakistan. From Karachi to Peshawar, from Lahore to Quetta, all markets and big and small businesses are closed. This strike is a warning to the government to withdraw the withholding tax. If the government does not take the withholding tax back, we will hold wheel-jam strikes and sit-ins across the country,” Haji Taher Naveed, general secretary, Traders Union of Pakistan, told Reuters TV.

In some cities, like Peshawar and Gujranwala, the traders remained divided over the closure as many traders’ bodies, especially those doing small-time businesses, had refused to join the strike.

Many small markets and commercial areas in such cities remained open.

This is the second countrywide strike on the same issue.

Earlier, the business community after observing the strike across country, succeeded in pressurising the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to halve the rate of withholding tax on banking transactions, and extending the date of implementation of the said tax.

However, a faction of traders refused to accept the FBR incentive of trimming the tax down from 0.6 percent to 0.3 percent, and insisted on a total withdrawal of the withholding tax.

Other groups soon joined in.

Businessmen say they have never refused to pay taxes, but the government needs to bring new people in to the tax net instead of taxing those who were already in the net.

Many traders complain that the new tax has created a lot of problems for them, and has also brought a collective loss of 878 billion rupees to the banking sector.

The complete shutter down strike for Wednesday was announced by different factions of the traders in press conferences a day earlier.

The traders’ organisations have threatened to observe another strike on October 07 if their demand was not met.

They are also clamoring for the resignation of the Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

Earlier, the union had written a letter to the Army Chief, General Raheel Sharif, to intervene in the matter on behalf of the traders’ community.

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