'New tax to affect 50,000 families'
27 July 2004
Gilgit: The Northern Areas Exporters and Importers Association said on Tuesday that the imposition of a tax by the Kohistan district administration would affect at least 50,000 families linked to border trade. The traders have announced that they will observe a week-long strike against the tax. In an appeal addressed to President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday, the association said the region was exempted from taxes due to its non-representation in the constitutional ambit of the country. 'Even then we have been paying all customs duties on the imported goods and therefore there should be no reason to impose self-devised taxes on one pretext or the other,' the association's president Jauher Ali Raki said. Mr Raki said the Kohistan administration had started charging Rs25,000 per lorry while in vouchers it mentioned Rs3,674 as Kohistan development fee. He said the traders had halted their lorries in protest against the tax being charged at Dassu. He said the traders would continue the protest unless the Kohistan administration withdrew the tax. The association sought the president's intervention for ensuring free and legal trade through the Karakoram Highway. He said all the hurdles in trade in Kohistan and Mansehra should be removed. At least 300 lorries loaded with Chinese goods have stopped in Gilgit and on the highway since Sunday. Traders have warned that they will dump their goods at the Khunjerab Pass if the tax was not withdrawn. The traders said they had paid Rs20 million as customs duty at Sust and their goods were worth Rs3 billion. They said they precious goods could be wasted if the issue was not resolved soon. They said each lorry driver had been charging traders Rs1,000 per day for the past week and they had suffered a loss of Rs1.4 million because of it. LIVESTOCK The northern areas development programme (NADP) has under taken artificial insemination of cows for obtaining their finer breeds in Bagrote valley. NADP's Regional Coordinator Dr Ishtiaque Hussain Syed at a community meeting in Bagrote said they would initiate more livestock development projects in the hilly and far-flung areas of the region particularly in the valley where 95 per cent people are dependent on agricultural and agro-pastoral activities. He said a local community-based organization, Dosh, was playing an active role in mobilizing people for the development of this neglected the valley. The NGO, he added, would provide incentives to local progressive farmers for growing fine varieties of fruit and vegetables.