Pakistani traders threaten to launch nationwide protests if new taxes imposed

pakistani traders

Traders in Pakistan have threatened to launch a nationwide protest in response to the government’s potential imposition of new taxes to meet the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) conditions. The Central Organisation of Traders has called for the government to reduce the salaries of army generals, judges, and parliamentarians instead.

On Saturday, representatives of the Central Organisation of Traders spoke to the media in Islamabad and announced their plan for a protest movement starting on February 13th if the new taxes are introduced. The leaders of the organization warned the government that the current economic situation in the country cannot withstand further taxation of the general public and the trading community.

They expressed dismay that the state of the economy of a nuclear country was in dire straits and the situation was worsening with each passing day, and said that the public should not suffer because of the “flaws or crimes committed by the leaders of this country.”

“Our reaction will be severe if more taxes worth billions of rupees were imposed, as being reported in the media,” Kashif Chaudhry, the organisation’s president, said, asking the stakeholders, including the ruling elites, to make “sane decisions” if they want to improve the economy.

Mr Chaudhry has proposed that the government reduce the expenses of high-level officials such as the President, Prime Minister, legislators, judges, army officers, and bureaucrats. He believes the government should immediately decrease “non-productive expenditures” by half.

The trader representatives have also made demands of the government. They have called for the creation of both short-term and long-term economic policies and for more consistent income tax collection across all sectors, instead of imposing billions of dollars in new taxes.

“I assure the government that the business community was ready to contribute to steering the country out of the current economic crises and we traders are ready to pay fixed taxes,” he said.

Khawaja Salman Siddiqui, the chairman of the organization, criticized Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. According to Siddiqui, Dar was appointed by the PML-N to stabilize the economy and prevent the depreciation of the rupee, but he failed to deliver on his responsibilities.

Mr Siddiqui said putting an artificial cap on the dollar’s rate led to a wide gap between the interbank and open market rates, and despite the demand to remove the cap, Mr Dar “remained stubborn and did not listen to anybody.”

Other speakers called for the implementation of the decision of the Federal Shariat Court to make Pakistan’s economy interest-free to “eradicate exploitation in the system.”

According to Dawn, the speakers also suggested an amnesty program that would allow wealthy individuals to repatriate their foreign wealth. The government could then borrow money from these individuals and provide them with profits instead of taking loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank with unfavorable conditions.

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