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Now everybody is looking forward that whether the issue has been settled or not

By Faraz Siddiqui
Jun 19 - 25, 2000

TAX survey is going on despite all ifs and buts by the business community. The unprecedented strike of 18 days caused great loss to the business and economic activities in the country. However the government is determined to carry on with all the obstacles and hindrances. On the other hand traders seem reluctant to accept the govt agenda as it is. But last week a decision to postpone the strike for 15 days has rolled the ball in the Government's court. Question is that whether this temporary withdrawal will certainly be resulted in a pragmatic solution to the issue or not?

The consistently deteriorating situation of the economy of the country can not afford any longer to being evasive from paying the taxes. Only 1.2 million out of the population of 140 millions are paying tax properly. This tax survey will bring approximately 3 million traders under tax net. Bulk of additional revenue is required in order to avoid any default and secure foreign funding. The additional revenue after this survey will assist the government with additional income. The survey will give the complete documentation which will be resulted in a consistent source of income through additional tax revenues.

Since the announcement of Finance Minister to start the documentation of economy to unearth the tax evadors by netting them under tax obligation, a violent response has been witnessed throughout the country from small traders against the decision which was resulted in 18 days shutter down throughout the country.

Last week in a press conference, traders announced the 15 days suspension in strike as a Good Will gesture between the parties. This time is given to the government to decide the solution to the problem. The government seems positively mold to give some concessions to the traders in this survey which is of course a positive sign and this will give soothing breathe to the countrymen because this strike has been resulting in a 4.5 billion daily losses to the economy.

Talking to PAGE Umer Sailya, Central Chairman APOSTCI (All Pakistan Organization of Small Traders and Cottage Industry) said that this 15 days should not be taken as an end of the story. This step has been taken, keeping in view the problems of the citizens, if the demands will not be accepted by the government then strike will commence again in shore strong way. Sailya emphasized that we did not get any relaxations from the government so far in this regard. He also observed that traders are not scared from documentation of economy but we won't allow the corrupt officials of CBR to exploite the traders. The tax survey should be conducted through the college and university students. Now it is time for the government to look for a solution to this issue. Mr Silya also said that the process of GST survey should be simplified, the present form and system is very complicated and this will be resulted in future exploitation of traders by the corrupt officials of CBR.

Mr. Bashir Miandad Central Chairman Pakistan Small Chamber of Commerce and Cottage Industry and Senior Vice President of All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran said that the issue has been resolved and notification is expected to be issued in a week or couple of days. As a result of negotiation, Government has agreed to do away with the last part of the form regarding assessment, also clause no 13 regarding stocks and not to reopen the accounts of the year 1999-2000. So these fifteen days span is taken as a pragmatic end to the problem after fruitful negotiation between traders and government. Dialogue is the only solution to solve any problem, strikes can never be a better to resolve any matter, he added.

Government is of the view that issue has been settled after friendly negotiation between government and traders. And the process of survey is going very fast throughout the country, government has totally cleared that this survey will certainly be completed because this survey is a must to strengthen the economy by improving the tax collection system, reducing the level of relying upon foreign debts and give the strong base to the economy. This survey will foster the tax culture in the country. Recently Chief Executive said that Government is not actually against giving genuine tax concessions to traders but no one can be evasive any more to pay the taxes. He stressed that tax collection bodies must refrain from any corrupt practices to enhance taxes.

The process of tax survey is pacing forward day by day in all the thirteen big cities of the country. On the other hand seven days of suspension has been passed and a week is left. Now everybody is looking forward that whether the issue has been settled or not. But the ground reality is that our country can not afford to be off for a long time and this is not only the loss of any individual but the whole country.

The real scenario will come out of the shadow after 15 days span but all the parties must keep the interests of the country prior in mind and help the government to make the economy documented. All issues should be settled through negotiation. Documentation of economy is a must to broaden the tax base in the country and this can be resulted in a constant source of income to the economy.