Traders have taken to the streets to protest against what they called an exorbitant increase in electricity bills following the imposition of sales tax on commercial consumers. Traders and shopkeepers have demanded of the government to immediately withdraw sales tax from electricity bills to avoid country-wide strikes. Traders and shopkeepers from Anarkali Bazaar, Lytton Road, Shahdara, Urdu Bazar, Shahalam and other commercial markets staged a protest demonstration in Nila Gumbad Chowk. Angry protesters were holding electricity bills and banners inscribed with slogans against the government. They also shouted slogans against the Federal Finance Minister Miftah Ismail and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government for not taking any action to rein in electricity tariffs. All Pakistan Anjuman Tajraan President Ashraf Bhatti led the protest rally at Nila Gumbad Chowk, like several small protest demonstrations in different areas of the provincial metropolis. Angry traders demanded the federal government immediately withdraw sales tax and not compel the trading community to take any direct action. While showing an electricity bill a trader from College Road, Township, Bashir Ahmad, pointed out that the power utility company has sent him around Rs13,972 electricity bill for just 153 units of consumption. He highlighted that the cost of electricity is a little over Rs3,200 and the rest is all taxes and surcharges. He cursed the incumbent rulers for tightening the noose around the necks of common citizens on the direction of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for merely $1 billion or so. Another small trader, Muhammad Azam, highlighted that the power utility company has sent him over a Rs15,000 bill for merely 165 units. The imposition of sale tax on electricity bills have created more troubles for small traders who are already suffering owing to high rate of inflation in the country. He demanded the government to immediately withdraw the sales tax from electricity bills as trading community is not in position to pay such high tariffs. He pointed out that traders are burning petrol or diesel to keep their businesses running as the power utility company cannot ensure uninterrupted electricity supply. “We are paying heavy bills for generators’ fuel and electricity and current economic situation does not allow to bear this burden,” he maintained. Though a traders’ group having close relations with the ruling party is reluctant to announce country wide strike call but most traders have consented to close down their business on August 17 in protest if the government do not withdrew sales tax from electricity bills.