Karachi businessmen demand suspension of service tax, levies

Request mechanism for providing relief to perturbed industrialists


​ Our Correspondent April 05, 2020
Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: The business community of Karachi, the economic and financial hub of the country, has urged the government of Sindh to announce relief measures similar to Punjab government’s initiatives in the wake of COVID-19.

Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan requested Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Saturday to devise an effective mechanism for providing immediate relief to the perturbed businessmen and industrialists.

He called upon the provincial government to direct the Sindh Revenue Board (SRB) to discontinue collection of all types of taxes including services tax and other levies.

“The same has been done by the Punjab government as Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has waived provincial taxes amounting to Rs18 billion in wake of the prevailing economic situation,” Khan wrote in a letter sent to the Sindh chief minister.

He stressed that SRB must stop collection of taxes during the next four to six months and should only resume it if the situation improves after the said period.

Echoing his remarks, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) former president Daroo Khan Achakzai told The Express Tribune that Punjab government had waived off the government infrastructure cess and Sindh should also do the same.

He further stressed that the relief, granted by the government, must reach the end consumer. The KCCI president highlighted that that the business and industrial community would try its best to pay the wages and salaries to the workers for the current month (April), however, it will be difficult to pay workers next month (May).

“Hence, a special relief package should be announced in which the entire cost of salaries and wages must be borne by the government, which is certain to provide relief to industries,” he underlined.

If the government is not in a position to do this, then a mechanism should be introduced for some time where the aggregate amount of salaries payable by each industry should be fragmented into three equal instalments, he said.

Detailing the mechanism further, he said the first portion would be paid by the relevant industrialist and the second portion should be contributed by the government while the last portion had to be borne by the labourers.

“This package is the need of the hour which will certainly enable the private sector to deal with this unexpected stress on their balance sheets, avoid lay-offs and rescue many industrial units from becoming bankrupt,” he added.

The KCCI president further asserted that the business community fully supported all the initiatives taken by the government to eradicate COVID-19 from Pakistan but it was also concerned about the hardships being faced by labourers, daily-wage earners and their families.

He was of the opinion that the ongoing lockdown had created serious crises for thousands of industries due to income erosion and additional cost of doing business as they had to pay salaries besides arranging food stuff and rations for workers and daily wage earners.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 5th, 2020.

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