Small traders threaten to hold nationwide protest | Pakistan Today

Small traders threaten to hold nationwide protest

KARACHI – Small traders threatened to unleash nationwide agitation if the government failed to comply with their demands, including the cancellation of the proposed reformed General Sales Tax (GST).
The members of the All Pakistan Organization of Small Traders and Cottage Industries (APOSTCI) have also vowed to hold a national gathering under the banner of the All Pakistan Traders Convention by the middle of this month to devise a future course of action for the organisation which has termed the GST a “death warrant” for the traders.
“After the convention we will launch a countrywide movement titled “Let the stove of the poor light up” from the platform of small traders,” APOSTCI Chairman Muhammad Umer Seelia claimed a press conference at Karachi Press Club. Seelia, the founding member of APOSTCI, conducted his first formal media conference on Monday on his arrival to the country last week after spending over a decade in exile.
The trader lambasted the present government for its failure to tackle the issues faced by the poor and traders alike such as power cuts, inflation, the poor security situation and the GST bill. The APOSTCI chief also appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice of the alarming situation and intervene by conducting suo moto action against the former President (r) Musharraf for committing unlawful and inhuman actions against him.
He also hinted at initiating legal action against the former general and former premier Nawaz Sharif for forcing him to leave the country over a decade ago. Slamming the FPCCI and KCCI for protecting the interests of big traders, Seelia warned of furor on the country’s streets, if Islamabad failed to comply with the demands of the traders.
“I demand the government to solve these problems, otherwise there will be direct action agains,” he said adding the government should also attempt to curtail soaring inflation and high electricity and gas tariffs. The APOSTCI chief said despite the passage of 10 years, both traders and the poor of the country were still haunted by back breaking taxes, inflation, unemployment and the poor law and order situation.
He lamented that gas and power outages were frequent in the country making profits for small businesses impossible while the government was engaged in political infighting. He expressed his opinion that the economy of the country was effectively held in “mortgage” by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which was dictating Islamabad’s policies to drive up tariffs rates for utilities as well as imposing new taxes like the reformed GST.
The trader said the majority of society was still living below the poverty-line, something with negative implications for the economy and the country at large, the trader said, the suicidal rate had climbed phenomenally and can be directly attributable to unemployment. “Parents are left with no choice but to put their children on sale,” he claimed.
Accusing the Federation Pakistan of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry of not working to protect the interests of small traders, the head of APOSTCI also urged the need for the establishment of a separate chamber for small traders. The platform, he said, would be used for the resolution of all issues faced by the small traders. “Both FPCCI and KCCI have failed to live up to both their responsibility and obligations,” he railed.
He alleged that the KCCI acted along ethnic lines and reiterated the urgent need for a separate chamber for the small traders. Expressing regret, Seelia said, the cases of kidnapping and abduction of traders for ransom had increased exponentially, which had hampered the growth of business and generated panic amongst them as the precarious security condition has only worsened.
Calling upon transporters to take back their decision on fare increase after the astronomical rise in POL prices, the trader said the move was reprehensible and would have negative implications on the poor and the business community.

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