If you have been a business journalist for a time, then you will connect to this. If you follow financial news, you will recognise the pattern. Whenever a firm or an industry association is interviewed, they invariably say the same thing.
Relief. They want some type of relief. They want budget relief, stimulus programmes, not to be taxed, and not to be questioned. And when they don’t get their princely treatment, they whine loudly about it. So you realise that we are not sympathetic to concerns like these.
We tolerate it because old industries like textiles, agriculture, steel, and others have been doing it for a long time. Surprisingly, emergent industries that we predict to behave differently do so. So when the eCommerce business organised a systematic campaign against the FY 2021-22 budget, everyone was startled.
But in this case, the campaign may be justifiable. It wasn’t a case of whining or begging for help, it was a matter of definitions As of the most current budget, ‘online marketplaces’ are considered Tier-1 Retailers, requiring them to report sales tax for their vendors.
Online marketplaces in Pakistan are young, and eCommerce has only recently found its real wings, therefore it is critical to specify exactly what these platforms are and how tax authorities should regard them. After all, why should eCommerce enterprises help formalise the informal economy at their own expense when government departments can do it for free?
Daraz, for example, rushed to get the budget’s designation of online markets as Tier-1 Retailers deleted before it was passed. They succeeded.