PESHAWAR: While the provincial traders’ organisation vowed here on Wednesday to resist the imposition of Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST), the ANP-led government looked set to ask the federal government to exempt the province from collecting the tax for two years in view of the extensive devastation caused by floods and militancy.
“Taking the plea of unfavourable conditions, the provincial government will soon ask the federal government to delay imposition of the RGST in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for two years,” said sources in the provincial government.
The Markazi Tanzeem Tajiran, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in a meeting decided to launch a protest campaign to force the government to revoke its decision to levy the RGST.
City traders who attended the meeting said that the protest would intensify in phases.
In the first phase, black banners carrying anti-RGST slogans would be unfurled in markets across the province. “Gradually the traders will intensify their activities by holding hunger strike camps and shutter down strikes etc,” the traders said. They said that the participants strongly condemned the political parties supporting the government to impose new taxes on people. They said that businessmen across the province would join hands with their community at national level against the RGST and foil all attempts concerning its imposition.
The traders condemned the standing committee on finance for its approval of the RGST and said that such steps were against public interests. Prominent among the traders who attended the meeting included Shaukat Ali Khan, Javaid Akhtar, Waris Khan Afridi, Haji Arshad Siddiqui, Shah Wazir, Saleem Jadoon, Zahir Shah and Chaudhry Shahid.
The official sources said that a proposal was under serious consideration of the KP government to delay implementation of the RGST in view of the weak economy and widespread devastation caused to the infrastructure and agriculture due to floods and terrorism. “Such adverse conditions provide little room for the provincial economy to bear new taxes,” they said.
The sources said that the delay of RGST was discussed in a high-level meeting held recently with Provincial Finance Minister Humayun Khan in the chair.
The finance minister and provincial secretary finance agreed that the province could not pay more taxes until the rehabilitation process was completed in the insurgency-affected areas of the province.
The sources said that the federal government had also been informed of the specific conditions of the province. Information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told a group of media men here the other day that the federal government had promised to delay implementation of the RGST in the province.—APP