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Impact of Corona-19 lockdown proves catastrophic for retail business: Supermarket Association SVP

FBR asked to call off integration all Tier-I retailers with Point of Sale at least by December 31

Jahangir Hayat

LAHORE: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) needs to immediately extend date of integration for all the Tier-I retailers with Point of Sale (Linked Invoicing System) at least by December 31, 2020 as the impact of Corona-19 lockdown proved catastrophic for the retail business.

This was stated by Lahore Supermarket Association SVP and LCCI standing Committee on Supermarket Affairs chairman Mardan Ali Zaidi while talking to The Business.

“We have been paying taxes and always wanted to pay taxes as the taxes are life blood to run any country’s affairs, however, this is not the right time to force the businessmen to indulge in the novel practices like getting integration with the linked invoicing system as after the COVID-19 lockdowns it far most important for the retail businessmen devotes as much time as they can to recover their business,” Super Market Association SVP.

The COVID-19 lockdown have hit the retail business hard breaking the backbone of the retail business. Our businesses have reduced significantly over 50 percent; he said adding that we are striving hard to regain the pre-COVID-19 position.

The government and FBR should extend relief to the businessmen instead of tightening the ante around the businessmen especially the retailers.

“We have been paying huge taxes and this is our right that government and its department come forward to extending relief to the business community in the larger national interests.

Referring a pre-budget 2020-21 meeting of the Chain Stores and Supermarket Association with the FBR chairman Shabbar Zaidi, he said, adding that the FBR has committed to reduce general sales tax to 12 percent
and give relief on high turnover income tax.

In this respect, our sector has not been given any relief in the budget, Zaidi stated, highlighting that the promise of deducting one percent of withholding tax and 2.5 percent to 5 percent on turnaround tax was also not fulfilled.

“We also demanded the government to reduce the distributors’ withholding tax to one percent in the budget but it was never done,” he further explained.

Talking about the input issue said that whole of the Shah Alam Market is conducting business on under invoicing as no one is ready to give original invoice while over 50 percent of the distributors are not giving original bill invoices.

“We do not have any GST input system. The FBR should directly send notices to the distributors besides we are always ready to pay WHT and Income Tax but for GST the FBR should directly deal with the distributors,” he said.

He also demanded the amnesty on the stuck-up stocks or it would be an uncalled for access and injustice to the retail businessmen if their stocks would be seized by any government agency.

Talking about the Point of Sale integration, he said that keeping in view the COVID like human crisis the government suspend the scheme until December 31 and be initiated from January 1, 2021.

“I would rather say to implement the PoS system from next financial year”, he said as adding that FBR said that all retailers who have the network of chain stores throughout Pakistan, located in air-conditioned big shopping malls or plazas and their cumulative electricity bill during the immediately preceding twelve consecutive months exceeds twelve hundred thousand rupees and they are engaged in bulk import and supply of consumer good on wholesale basis to the retailers as well as on retail basis in to the consumer and their shop’s size measures one thousand square feet in area or more must integrate their retail outlets with the FBR’s computerized system for real time reporting of sales.

He mentioned that FBR has warned that the last date for such integration is 31st August, 2020 and afterwards those who failed to integrate would be imposed a penalty up to rupees one million and if the offence continued, the business premises of such retailer shall be sealed.

“If this happens, a large scale discontentment among the retail businessmen will take place leading them to close their businesses,” he feared, adding that the unemployment rate will further increase which has already been aggravated by the outbreak of the pandemic.

In answer to a question about as how badly has the COVID-19 hit the retail business, he said that following the COVID-19 lockdown was ordered retailers, business was slashed by over 50 percent. Over 10 billion rupees losses have been witnessed at the Lahore levels during the four months of the pandemic.

“However, none of the Supermarket Association member undertook downsizing,” he said, demanding that the retail business sector should be given immediate reliefs including reduction in general sales tax to a single digit and turnover tax up to 0.25 to 0.5. This will also bring down the sky rocketing prices of the goods and articles.

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