PESHAWAR: Traders in Peshawar have warned the federal government that they would stage protests unless they withdraw the recently imposed regulatory duties on imported items.
Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) President Zahidullah Shinwari, while addressing a news conference said that the newly-imposed regulatory duty on imported items would not only lead to a hike in prices of consumer goods but also promote the practice of under-invoicing and smuggling, ultimately resulting in a drop in the government’s revenue.
The Federal Board of Revenue on October 16 had issued a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) 1035(I)/2017 to impose a regulatory duty on the import of 731 consumer items.
The SRO increases the regulatory duty from 10 to 80 per cent. However, Shinwari declared the move as ‘unjustified’ and asked for the immediate withdrawal of the duty hike.
“Due to imposition of new regulatory duties, consumers would have to bear the brunt of Rs25 billion in new taxes,” he said.
“The federal government did not take the chamber or the business community on board before taking such a decision,” said Shinwari.
“The policy would not lower the current trade deficit, but will also affect the existing export volume, especially with Afghanistan.”
Flanked by the chamber’s Senior Vice President Mohammad Naeem Butt, Vice President Malik Niaz Mohammad, and executive committee members of the SCCI, Shinwari said that the federal government should try and provide maximum relief to the people and to the business community rather than burdening them with new taxes.
He warned that if the government did not withdraw the regulatory duties on imported items, then all chambers of commerce and the business community in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa would stage strong protests against them.
Charter of economy
Keeping in view the ‘unjust policies’ of the federal government towards K-P, the SCCI chief said that the chamber has decided to hold an all parties conference in February 2018 to jointly frame a ‘charter of the economy for the development of K-P and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
Shinwari also expressed his dismay over how the government had ignored the terrorism-affected K-P and Fata when considering projects under the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
In this regard, he said that the SCCI has planned a CPEC conference to raise their voice for the due share and rights of K-P and tribal areas under CPEC.
“The businesses and due rights are being affected due to imposition of different laws,” said Shinwari.
He added that the chamber had decided to move the court against all ‘unjust laws’, including fuel adjustment charges, Gas Infrastructure Development Cess, EOBI, SNGPL, WAPDA, delayed tax refunds, professional tax, further tax, withholding tax, Securities Exchange Commission, textbook board and others.
Talking about ease of doing business in the province, the SCCI head said the law and order situation has improved in the province, but, several members of the business body were receiving extortion calls from unidentified cell phone numbers, which is a matter of grave concern.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2017.
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