By Shabbir Mir
GILGIT: An alliance of political, religious and nationalist organisations called for a transport strike on February 24 in Gilgit-Baltistan in protest against the withdrawal of tax rebates in the region. The strike call was given by anti-tax movement on Sunday.
The movement’s convener, Wajahat Ali, told The Express Tribune, “The strike will be held on Wednesday across the region.” He added, “This has been decided in a general body meeting held earlier.” Ali said, “All shops and business activities will remain closed, and no transport will be allowed on the roads to give a strong message to the government against its decision.”
When contacted, Adviser to G-B Chief Minister Farooq Mir said, “No new taxes have been imposed. The government just implemented the orders given by G-B Council.”
Earlier, contractors association president Firdous Ahmed told journalists current rate of taxation was not acceptable. According to Ahmed, the taxes were a form of “financial murder” for locals who have no representation in Parliament.
The rebate in question
The federal government recently announced the withdrawal of a rebate on duties in the region, a discount which had been in place for years because of the disputed status of the region.
The decision was taken after the federal government decided to introduce reforms in the G-B Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009, possibly changing the region’s constitutional status.
With the rebate, tax on goods was 3%. Without the discount, it stands at 7.5%. This tax is applicable to food items, transport companies, and print and electronic media.
The protest was named the ‘anti-tax movement’ after it was joined by political and religious parties.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2016.