A representational image of taxes. — AFP/File

Citing its detrimental economic impact on the media industry, the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and Pakistan Broadcasters on SaturdayAssociation (PBA) appealed to the government to retract the proposed amendment in the Finance Bill 2024-25 that restricts the deduction of sales promotion and advertising expenses.

In separate letters addressed to the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb, both organisations emphasised that members of PBA and APNS were already grappling with severe hardships due to the contraction of the documented economy, lack of innovation, and overall sluggish economic growth.

They highlighted that as per the amendment in the recent finance bill, up to 25% of a company’s total sales promotion and advertising expenses would no longer be adjustable in the income tax return.

“The tax liability of large multinational companies will significantly increase; moreover, this additional tax liability will attract super tax,” the letters stated.

Both entities underscored that the effective tax rates they pay were already the highest in the region, and the restriction on claiming sales promotion and advertising costs would exacerbate their challenges, making Pakistan less attractive from a foreign direct investment perspective.

APNS and PBA acknowledged the government’s efforts to formalise the economy and recognised positive steps taken by all stakeholders. They expressed awareness of the inevitability of economic slowdown and advocated for patience and resilience across society, including their members and employees.

Highlighting the vulnerable position of their members, both bodies asserted that further economic decline could lead to job cuts following the closures of small media channels and newspapers, with detrimental effects on the broader community.

While committing to support the state and the government amidst challenges, APNS and PBA urged for rationale in tax-related decision-making.

They argued against short-term gains that increase the cost of doing business for longstanding partners and warned that such measures could harm the sustainable growth of the documented economy in the long run.

The press and media bodies also criticised the proposed amendment as weak, lacking consideration of global best practices and the local business environment and detrimental to foreign direct investment in Pakistan.

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