ISLAMABAD: The Gilgit-Baltistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GBCCI) has announced its decision to launch a protest movement against the government’s decision to levy taxes in the region.
The chairman of the GBCCI, Mr Javed Hussain, told the media here that until and unless Gilgit-Baltistan was given proper representation in Senate and the National Assembly of Pakistan,Islamabadwould not be allowed to impose taxes on the people of the region.
He said Gilgit-Baltistan was not a constitutionalprovinceofPakistanand through the autonomy and self-government order of 2009Islamabadhad tried to snatch everything from the people of the region. Mr Hussain said that the decision to levy taxes in Gilgit-Baltistan was unconstitutional and illegal and the local people would never allow this to happen.
The GBCCI chief said the governor and chief minister of the region should respect the sentiments of the people and avoid committing the blunder of accepting the dictation of the federal government regarding tax imposition otherwise they would never escape public wrath.
He warned that if the government imposed the taxes the traders in the region would not return the loans to the state institutions and would also not let the opening of the Sost port in May. Mr Hussain said that the traders of the area were already facing a number of issues and were not in a position to pay taxes. He said the government was deliberately trying to create law and order problem in the region by imposing taxes.
He said the traders community in collaboration with other sections of society would launch a protest movement which will continue till the governments withdraws its decision to levy taxes in the region.
The traders’ leader also said that the government had failed to devise a policy for promotion of business activities in the region and now was out to create problems for the traders by imposing taxes.
He was of the view that until the political and constitutional status of the region was determined, the government could not impose any tax on the local people.
He also warned that if the government did not respect the people’s sentiments and aspirations, the situation in the region would get out of control and the rulers would be responsible for this.
Meanwhile, it has been learnt that serious differences have erupted between the members of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly and the GB Council over imposition of taxes in the region. It may be noted that from the day one the assembly members have been opposing the creation of the council terming it a house formed to safeguard the rights of the federal government. The latest development regarding tax imposition has further strengthened the reservations of not only the assembly members but also of the general public that Islamabad is trying to bulldoze its decisions through the council in Gilgit-Baltistan.