Kirkuk, March 9, 2022: a shop for wholesale of vegetables and fruits in Khan Khurma (Al-Tamir) (House of Dates) resumes work a day after it was closed in protest of renting the bazar to a contractor who imposed extra fees. Karwan Al-Salihi
The imposition of tax fees on shop owners in the Khan al-Tamr market in the city of Kirkuk continues, while the Kirkuk municipality pledged earlier to reconsider the decision, a condition under which the shop owners ended their protests.
Last March, the owners of vegetable shops in the greengrocery wholesale decided to permanently close their stores due to the imposition of "illegal" taxes, as they described it, but they decided to open their shops a day later, provided that the decision to impose taxes is reconsidered.
Nawzad Najim, one of the sellers, told (KirkukNow), "After we organized a demonstration in March and closed the market for one day, the municipal officials promised us to consider the decision and, on this basis, we reopened the market."
House of Dates, one of the largest markets in the city of Kirkuk, specializes in selling fruits and vegetables wholesale and retail, and employs about 400 vendors.
The amount of tax fees collected by an investor from the sellers of Khan Al-Tamr market with the approval of the municipality, ranges from 250 to 500 Iraqi dinars IQD (1USD=1480IQD) per bag or box, depending on the size.
The tax is collected by security elements belonging to the investor who are present at the entrances and exits of the market, in return for regulating and protecting the market in terms of security.
Hajj Omar Aoudel, a wholesaler of vegetables and fruits, says, "We were not paying any taxes before. We used to organize the market ourselves without any problem...Despite many promises (to skip it), but they continue to impose taxes on us."
The decision to collect taxes has been implemented in the market for about a year and a half, and the decision came after an investor signed a contract with the Kirkuk municipality to manage the affairs of the bazaar.
Last September, the vendors protested collecting fees between 15-80 USD per truck size by an investor while local authorities affirmed the investor has a valid contract with local administration of Kirkuk.
Representatives of shop owners in the wholesale grocery bazaar of Kirkuk last March met with the commander of Kirkuk’s Joint Operations’ Command who promised to halt imposing taxes on sales and to held further meetings to sort out the issue.
Rokan Ahmed, who runs a shop selling vegetables and fruits in the Celebration Square area of Kirkuk, and purchases goods from the House of Dates, told (KirkukNow), "We have to pay daily taxes ranging from 13,000 to 15,000 dinars, otherwise the security force stationed at the entrances with military vehicles prevent us from transporting goods outside the market.”
"This is why I have to add the tax fees that are imposed on us to the goods, and in the end, the most affected are people."
During the protests, Hardi Sheikh Tayeb, the investor who signed a contract with the local authorities, said, “I own a legal and official contract signed with the Kirkuk municipality amounts to 509 million Iraqi dinars, per which, I will organize the market legally and in terms of security.”
The mayor of Kirkuk, Fereydun Adel, did not respond to KirkukNow's calls during the past three days, and the Kirkuk municipality's media official refused to make a statement on the matter.
However, a source in the Kirkuk municipality anonymously confirmed that the investor continues to impose taxes.
Last March, the shop owners complained against the investor to the Kirkuk municipality and described the amounts collected from them as royalties and not tax fees, but after following up on the case, it was found that the investor obtained the contract legally. at public auction.