Pakistan plans an across country crackdown on markets housing smuggled goods; separate operation against trade leaders

KARACHI: Government and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) have devised a strategy to implement the taxation and budgetary measures to the letter, sources said assuring that there would be no more protests and strikes, as this has been taken care of.

Several traders and market associations observed a shutter down strike on Saturday across the country, but the strike did not have the support of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and many traders and market associations.

The traders are protesting against the imposition of 17 percent Sales Tax in VAT mode, higher turnover tax, provision of CNIC copy on transactions of Rs50,000 and above, and several other revenue measures.

Traders are of the view that additional taxes had increased prices adversely impacting their sales and business.

Sources said investigation and intelligence agencies had collected all the information about the wrongdoings and corruption of business leaders, and these leaders were shown all these details to refrain from supporting the strike and protest. References have also been forwarded to relevant agencies for further investigations. Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) of the central bank has forwarded reports regarding suspicious transactions and suspected money laundering and tax evasion of leading business leaders such as Siraj Kassim Teli, S.M Muneer, Mirza Ikhtiar Baig etc. (Read detailed story here)

This is the first time that military is taking so much interest in country’s economy as economic situation has worsened, sources said adding several budgetary measures are based on their input.

On the other hand, Customs Intelligence and IRS Intelligence, with the assistance of other law enforcement agencies and para-military outfits, have planned to raid and recover smuggled goods from various markets across country including in Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar and Islamabad. Markets are flooded with smuggled goods including tiles, electronics, cloth, auto parts, mobile phones etc.

It is known that office bearers of market associations and trade bodies are patronizing the illegitimate trade and they are resorting for strikes and protest to protect their dirty business. Large scale arrests are anticipated as FBR is initializing crackdown on these elements.

According to reports, Prime Minister Imran Khan in a meeting with PTI parliamentarians mentioned change would be brought in phases, and in the first phase external account would be improved and then education and health sectors would be focused and the country would be made a welfare state.

Imran Khan said documentation of economy was primarily aiming to discourage trade in smuggled goods. Such measures would ensure that it becomes impossible to sell and purchase smuggled goods. On the other hand borders with Afghanistan and Iran are sealed to stop influx of smuggled goods.

Imran Khan informed PTI parliamentarians that government cannot give subsidy after taking loans, and that these measures would be visible after two years.

FBR sources said all people will have to file returns and wealth declarations proving source of income, as no would be able to hide wealth, evade taxes and make black money whether they be bureaucracy, media persons, lawyers, judges, armed forces, etc,.

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