Unacceptable: Traders up in arms over import cess

KPCCI president says levy imposed by K-P govt serves as ‘double taxation’

Our Correspondent August 25, 2016
President KP Chambers of Commerce and Industry Zulfiqar Ali Khan addressing a press conference at KPCCI. PHOTO: INP

PESHAWAR: Traders vehemently opposed the imposition of the revised 0.75% infrastructure development cess on imports which was imposed by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government in the 2016-17 budgets. The same levy used to be 1%.

Speaking at a news conference at the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KPCCI), traders said they would knock on the court’s door if the decision was not withdrawn. They were led by KPCCI President Zulfiqar Ali Khan.

“We are already paying such a tax at the Karachi port,” Zulfiqar Ali said. “This will be double taxation if K-P also charges the same tax on the entry of goods into the province.”

Previously, the charge was 1%, but traders are now even willing to accept the reduced rate of 0.75%.

Senior traders and industrialists, including KPCCI former president Fawad Ishaq and Hayatabad Industries Association president Ghazanfar Bilour were present during the briefing. The current KPCCI president added all provincial ministers and government officials had agreed on the fact that this was an “irrational tax”. However, the chief minister has refused to withdraw it or meet traders.

“The government is taking steps to bring investors to the province, but such efforts will fail if these policies continue,” Zulfiqar Ali said.

The tax was imposed by the K-P government which hoped to collect around Rs1 billion from this levy in the current fiscal year. Now, the rate of taxation has been reduced and the annual collection will not be more than Rs500 million.

At least 812 industrial units have already closed in the province, Ishaq said. He added many were still under threat from the unfavorable business environment and such steps by the provincial government will further harm their interests.

“It will not damage the economy, but it will harm poor traders,” Ishaq said. “It will also revive the an old system, which was ended by the federal government some years ago and this change came as a relief for traders.”

Hayatabad Industries Association President Ghazanfar Bilour also opposed the imposition of this tax. He reiterated that this was double taxation and would not even benefit the government.

Bilour added the government was planning to construct ten new industrial estates in the province and that was appreciated by the business community. “However, to bring in investors and industrialists, policies should be adopted which will attract and not deter them.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2016.


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