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'Unjust' tax halts Pakistani freight

September 3 - Pakistan's seaports, airports and bonded container freight stations closed on September 2 as a result of strike action by members of the Pakistan Freight Forwarders Association (PIFFA) and the Air Cargo Agents Association of Pakistan (ACAAP)

PIFFA chairman Saeed Khan said the strike was in reaction to an 8 percent minimum tax on turnover for logistics service providers, and the strike is scheduled for an indefinite period of time.

PIFFA and ACAAP said the industrial action was agreed upon at their executive committee meetings, which took place during mid-August. "It has been decided that we will neither serve nor carry out any commercial activity until the government agrees to revoke the unjust eight percent minimum taxes on turnover on all service providers," said Khan.  

The Pakistani government, through its Finance Act 2015 legislation, has retroactively applied the tax from 2009; observers suggest no organisation would be able to survive under such a repressive tax regime.

It is estimated that around 80 percent Pakistan's import and export trade is handled by freight forwarders and air cargo agents, and yesterday's strike resulted in USD130 million of export losses.

Habibullah A. Latif, secretary general of PIFFA, said: "The movement of all types of import and export cargo has come to a standstill. The associations, besides highlighting grievance through electronic and print media, have kept sending messages to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the Ministry of Finance and the PM Office and await response to revoke the undue tax."

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