Small traders cancel strike after FBR affirmation

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ISLAMABAD: Traders have postponed a state strike announced for Sept 27 (today) after the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) gave an undertaking that tiny traders wouldn’t be bereft of electricity and gas supply and mobile services on the appliance of the latest tax laws introduced through a recent presidential ordinance.

The decision was announced at a press conference here on Sunday by leaders of a variety of small traders’ bodies and FBR’s Member Operations Qaiser Iqbal.

“All confusions and misunderstandings of small traders on the Tax Laws (Third Amendment) Ordinance were removed,” said a politician announcement.

The government had promulgated a presidential ordinance on Sept 17 giving wide-ranging powers to the FBR to disable mobile SIMs and disconnect electricity and gas connections of non-filers through data matching with the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) using AI.

A small traders’ delegation led by Markazi Tanzeem Tajiran, Pakistan, president Kashif Chaudhry and therefore the FBR member had been holding discussions for a previous couple of days.

“The confusions and misunderstandings of small traders, especially with regard to Tax Laws (Third Amendment) Ordinance-2021 were addressed,” said Qaiser Iqbal.

The key objective was to register professionals and unregistered traders who were operating from their homes, he said, adding that the appliance of Point of Sale (POS) didn’t pertain to small traders who weren’t required to put in it.

While clarifying Section 114B of the tax Ordinance-2001, the FBR member said the overall public was being misled by vested groups resulting in belief that their electricity and gas connections would be disconnected and their mobile phones disabled.

“Only those persons who aren’t appearing on Active Taxpayers List (ATL) will face this treatment,” he added.

While giving an evidence of Sub Section (1A) of Section 235 of the tax , 2001, Member IR Operations stated that the change in rate of advance tax on electricity bill as introduced within the Tax Laws (Third Amendment) Ordinance-2021 would neither affect small traders nor the other one that was an tax filer.

“This provision has been introduced to bring non-tax paying ‘professionals’ within the tax net,” he said, adding that “it won’t affect commercial consumers of electricity”.

He said commissioners had also been advised to concentrate to the concerns of traders and resolve their issues at the local level. Another official said some professionals were spreading misinformation to secure wider support from traders against the appliance of latest measures introduced to expand the assets by tracing potential tax evaders.

Traders’ leader Kashif Chaudhry said they were satisfied with the reassurance and explanations of the FBR member.

He said he spoke on behalf of variety of other small traders, reported to possess come from everywhere the country and were present at the press conference to announce postponement of the protest call scheduled for Sept 27.

The traders had also announced that they might surround the finance ministry and FBR against the appliance of latest tax laws.

The FBR member thanked the traders’ leadership for his or her understanding and cooperation and also assured them that each one issues regarding tax laws and the other confusion shall be clarified by mutual discussions, leaving no space for unfounded propaganda or misinformation spread by irresponsible elements on social media.

According to FBR, those attending the concluding session of negotiations resulting in postponement of their strike were representing small traders from across Pakistan.

Besides Kashif Chaudhry, those that attended the event included Khawaja Shahid Razzaq Sakka, Patron-in-Chief Markazi Tanzeem Tajiran Pakistan and President, Anjuman Tajiran, Faisalabad; Khawaja Suleman Siddiqui, Chairman, Markazi Tanzeem Tajiran Pakistan; Sharjeel Mir, Central President Tanzeem Tajiran Punjab; and about twenty-four office-bearers of Markazi Tanzeem Tajiran from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab.

All traders’ leaders unanimously announced that they might keep playing their positive role and cooperate with FBR on vital issues associated with tax compliance in order that the economy got strengthened and therefore the country became economically self-reliant.

Under the new ordinance, a replacement section 114B (powers to enforce filing of returns) had been introduced within the tax Ordinance 2001, empowering FBR to issue tax General Order in respect of persons who aren’t appearing on ATL but are susceptible to file a return under the ordinance.

“The tax General Order may entail any or all of the subsequent consequences for the persons mentioned therein; like disabling of mobile phones or SIMs, discontinuance of electricity and gas connections”.

Another big enforcement measure introduced through this ordinance is that the changes within the penal regime for non-filers.

The penalty for the non-filers has been increased to Rs1,000 per day of default. the govt has increased the quantity of penalty for tier-1 retailers who aren’t integrated with the FBR.

The government has also imposed a further advance tax on the rates starting from five per cent to 35pc on the professionals using domestic electricity connections.

The professionals’ category covers accountants, lawyers, doctors, dentists, health professionals, engineers, architects, IT professionals, tutors, trainers and other persons engaged within the provision of services.

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