Protest against GST: Brick kiln owners announce shutdown

To close down indefinitely from August 3.

Z Ali July 31, 2011


Brick kiln owners have announced a complete shutown in Sindh from August 3, in protest against the levying of sales tax on bricks. The shutdown is part of a countrywide protest and is for an indefinite period.

“We will stop production and sale of bricks until the government withdraws the tax,” warned Haji Behram Khan, president Sindh Brick Kilns Owners Association. He was addressing a rally of kiln owners, workers and transporters associated with the industry on Saturday.

There are around 500 large and 1,000 small kilns in the province with each employing between 100 to 125 workers. The federal budget 2011-12 has imposed 16 percent GST on construction materials including bricks, cement and concrete blocks, which hitherto enjoyed exemption.

The kiln owners and workers started protests in anticipation of the budget approval from early June hoping to exact their demand from the government.

“A similar tax was also proposed in a budget during the last Peoples Party government. The rulers then relented to our protests,” said Shaikh Shoukat, general secretary of the association. Terming the government’s stance ‘obstinate’ and ‘merciless’ he said that the tax will ruin their industry which is already dealing with the growing cost of production.

“The move will be a great setback for the construction industry which has been burdened with new taxes on essential building materials,” said Shoukat.

The kilns mainly use coal energy for production of bricks. He also alleged that the GST will open a new door of corruption as the revenue department has so far not devised any transparent collection plan.

The August 3 call for closure of the kilns is the third after a similar three-day strike in June and a seven-day strike in early July.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2011.


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