Traders (Industrialists slam passage of GIDC Bill and call for its urgent withdrawal)

Islamabad: The local industrialists in a meeting at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry strongly protested against the passage of Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) Bill from the parliament and called upon the government to urgently withdraw it as it will increase tremendously the cost of doing business, make export sector unviable in the global market and cause closure of large number of industrial units in the country rendering thousands of workers jobless.

Chairing the meeting, Muzzamil Hussain Sabri, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that businessmen have been expressing great concerns against GIDC ever since its introduction through GIDC Act in 2011 while the top court of the country had also termed it illegal and had ordered for refund of amount collected on account of GIDC to the consumers.

But it was highly unfortunate that government totally ignored the concerns of business community against this levy and went ahead with its plan to give legal cover to this controversial tax.

He said that government’s intransigent stand on the GIDC in spite of businessmen protests and the Supreme Court’s rejection of its review petition has created disappointment in business community and this measure will also give rise to inflation putting more burden on common man.

Abdul Rauf Alam, Group Leader said that government had claimed to utilize the funds raised through GIDC for developing the infrastructure of Pak-Iran and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline projects and projected collection of Rs.145 billion during current financial year through this cess while it has so far collected Rs.99 billion through this tax.

However, he termed it totally unjustified to start advance collection of cess for a work that has not been initiated as yet.

He said that per MMBTU gas tariff for industry in India was $4.66, Bangladesh $1.86 and Sri Lanka $3.66, however, $4.80/MMBTU gas tariff for industry in Pakistan was already highest in the region while GIDC would take this tariff up to $6.27/MMBTU that would render our industry very uncompetitive and severely damage its growth.

The industrialists said that the best option for enhancing tax revenue was to promote industrialization in the country by creating conducive environment while such measures will discourage new investment in industrial sector.

They called upon the government to withdraw GIDC forthwith in order to save the industry, exports, industrial workers and the overall economy from further more troubles.

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