KARACHI:The business community on Saturday asked the government to withdraw proposed 400 percent hike in the income tax rate on turnover of flour mills; otherwise, price of 20kg flour bag will jump by Rs90 by July 01 resulting in a severe nationwide crisis.

Wheat flour is a major staple and part of our daily diet which should remain in the buying power of the masses facing unemployment and reduced income due to pandemic and runaway inflation, they said

Talking to the business community, President of Islamabad Industrial Association (IIA) Shaikh Tariq Sadiq said that the government had proposed an increase in the income tax rate on the turnover of flour mills from 0.25 to 1.25 percent, which was a 400 percent increase in one go that would cause a sharp rise in flour prices.

He demanded that the government should immediately withdraw the unjustified decision to save the general public from high inflation, otherwise, the food insecurity will engulf the country in a way that had never happened before which could result in unpredicted consequences.

Sadiq said that the sales tax on bran was abolished four years ago which was welcomed by the flour millers but in the current budget a sales tax of 17 percent has been proposed on bran which will also give rise to inflation resulting in restlessness among the masses.

“Flour is a basic need of the people and the high cost of flour has a direct impact on the life of the common man which is finding it difficult to bring food to the table, therefore, the implications of the recent decision should be reconsidered,” he said.

He demanded that government should immediately withdraw the decision to save the people from further miseries braving facing unprecedented inflation. The IIA President further said that wheat was not available in the market despite the government’s claim of a bumper crop while ECC had decided to import three million tonnes of wheat for strategic reserves.

He emphasized that the government should focus on controlling the hoarding and stop seizing of wheat loaded trucks otherwise, the flour will become more expensive, which cannot be blamed on the flour mills. Sadiq said that if this situation continued, the price of a 20 kg bag of flour would go up to Rs1200, which would make roti more expensive.

He stressed that to save the people from further hardships and difficulties, the government should immediately restore the income tax rate on the turnover of flour mills to 0.25% and also withdraw 17% sales tax on bran.

He said there are more than 50 flour mills in ICT only and over 1,000 operating in the country supplying atta to approximately 220 million people. The Pakistan Flour Mills Association PFMA has in a recent emergency meeting appealed to the Prime Minister and Finance Minister to revisit the taxation measures; otherwise, hike in the price of flour will create, he said, adding that the government had hinted at slapping more taxes for the small industry which was not a welcome move. Omais Khattak, SVP, IIA, Muhammad Ahmed and Mohsin Khalid former Presidents ICCI, Malik Sohail Hussain, former SVP ICCI and others were also present at the occasion.