BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
GILGIT: The contractors on Tuesday temporarily called off a strike after government assured them of settling the issue.
The protest came a day after G-B government increased income tax from 3% to 7.5 %, withdrawing a rebate provided earlier for the region for its ambiguous constitutional status.
“We have called it off conditionally for two days during which we hope our issue will be settled by the government as promised,” said Firdos Ahmed, president of G-B Contractors association.
The contractors on Monday established a protest camp outside the chief minister secretariat, which was also joined by political leaders, demanding annulment of the taxes imposed by the government through G-B Council, a body chaired by prime minister. Given the disputed constitutional status of the region, the protestors refused to comply with the new order of levying increased taxes.
“But we will resume it with full vigour if our demands aren’t met,” Ahmed told The Express Tribune.
The contractor who spoke to chief minister Hafeezur Rahman a day earlier said the chief minister assured them of looking into the matter.
The end of boycott will result in resumption of work on over 400 development schemes initiated by the government across the region.
Speaking to media, parliamentary secretary on law Aurangeb Khan advocate said the decision to raise income tax and other taxes was taken by the previous government in 2012 through then G-B Council. “These are not new taxes that we are going to levy,” said Khan.
“The government just implemented what the previous government of PPP did in its tenure.”
Khan said the government would look into options as how this move could be reverted. “This is a legal issue and I think it can be undone by the forums which enforced it.”
The strike, initiated by the contractors, picked up momentum as political parties including Pakistan Peoples Party jumped onto the bandwagon capitalizing on the opportunity to oppose the newly formed government of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz [PML-N]. However the contractors decision to call it off temporarily has disappointed the politicians who wanted to settle scores with the government.