GILGIT: Complete shutter down was observed in Gilgit-Baltistan on Thursday against imposition of taxes in the region.
The call for the strike was given by G-B contractor Association and was endorsed by traders, nationalist and other political and religious parties against an increase in taxes from 3% to 7.5 %. The increase came after the G-B government withdrew a rebate.
According to reports reaching Gilgit, markets and public transport remained suspended in Skardu, Ghanche, Astore and Diamer valleys as residents symbolized their support for the strike which was named “Anti tax movement” after other stakeholders joined it. In Chilas, speakers addressed a rally organized against levying taxes.
A resident of Gilgit said anti-tax movement members forcefully closed shop and stopped traffic in parts of the town.
“This is against the injustices being committed against the residents of the region,” said contractor Association president member on Thursday.
“If government wants to levy taxes, it should first give us the constitutional rights by making the region 5th province.”
The protest came a day after the G-B government withdrew a rebate which resulted in an increase in taxes from 3% to 7.5 %. The rebate had been put in place due to the region’s ambiguous constitutional status. However a committee headed by Sartaj Aziz has already started working to devolve maximum rights to the residents.
Given the disputed constitutional status of the region, protesters refused to comply with the new order which led to increase in the taxes, said another contractor.
Parliamentary Secretary on Law Advocate Aurangzeb Khan told media recently the decision to raise income tax and other levies was taken by the previous government in 2012 through the then G-B Council.
“These are not new taxes” Aurangzeb said. “The government just implemented what the PPP government did during its tenure.” According to the parliamentary secretary, the government would look into options to revert this decision.