By Asad Cheema
ISLAMABAD: The business community at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) has resented the proposal for levying a luxury tax in Islamabad Capital Territory and has called upon the government to immediately withdraw it as its imposition only in Islamabad would be a discriminatory treatment with the citizens of the federal capital.
President ICCI Muhammad Ahmad Waheed said that the government had claimed of presenting a tax free budget as no new tax was introduced in the Federal Budget 2020-21. However, contrary to its claim, the government has proposed a luxury tax for ICT in the Finance Bill 2020, which was totally unjustified.
He said that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, citizens of Islamabad were already facing great problems and in these circumstances, imposing luxury tax on them would add to their problems. He said that the citizens of Islamabad were already paying 6 types of taxes, therefore, subjecting them to a luxury tax would be a great injustice to them.
Muhammad Ahmad Waheed said that MCI has already made 300 percent increase in property tax in Islamabad and in this situation, imposition of luxury tax would be a double taxation on them that was against the basic rights of citizens. He said that other major cities of the country including Karachi and Lahore have bigger houses and farmhouses than in Islamabad and if no luxury tax was imposed on them then what was the justification of imposing such a tax only in Islamabad.
He said that in the current scenario, the government should focus on promoting business activities instead of giving more focus to tax revenue. He was of the view that promoting businesses would bring multiple benefits to the economy as it would lead to better development of trade and industrial activities, promote new investment, generate more employment opportunities, reduce poverty & unemployment and increase tax revenue of the country.
The ICCI President said that the government has planned to levy a luxury tax in Islamabad @ Rs.100,000/ kanal on houses with a covered area of more than 6000 square feet, Rs.200,000/ kanal on houses with a covered area of over 8000 square feet, Rs.25/square feet on farm farmhouses with a covered area between 5,000-7,000 square feet and up to Rs.80/square feet on farmhouses with a covered area of over 10,000 square feet, however, it was not acceptable to all stakeholders including the business community. He, therefore, demanded of the government to reconsider this move in the best interest of citizens and withdraw this proposal forthwith.