- Egyptian pharmacists have suspended their strike during negotiations with the government aimed at reaching a compromise on a new taxation law, state news agency MENA has reported.
Pharmacists went on strike on Monday in protest of new tax legislation that led private pharmacies to lose their tax status as small businesses.
Secretary general of the pharmacists group, Mohamed Abdul-Maqsoud, said the pharmacists halted the strike, awaiting talks between the group and the Finance Ministry. "All private pharmacies have abided by their union's decision to halt the strike," Mr Abdul-Maqsoud added.
Mr Abdul-Maqsoud said the talks between government and pharmacists are meant to reach an agreement on the new tax provision to ensure regular flow of tax dealings.
"We received strong promises from top officials that the problem will be solved. We didn't mean to torture patients, we deal with a very sensitive commodity so our moves should be well calculated," he said.
The Tax Authority demands back taxes dating from 2005. Under a deal struck back then between Egypt's Pharmacist Syndicate and the Ministry of Finance, private pharmacies' lost their tax status as small businesses. The Authority has however threatened trials for pharmacies that do not comply with its request.
On Monday, pharmacists in the country's 4,500 private-owned drugstores went on strike to protest a decision by the Income Tax Authority to wipe away all agreements with several enterprises on legalising all forms of tax returns, which the chemists say is against their interests, reported MENA.
Mr Abdul-Maqsoud said 98 percent of the pharmacies in the country shut down in the first day of strike and those in Cairo closed from 10:00 a.m. till 6:00 p.m., stressing that the drugstores in each governorate have the right to determine the time of closure.
Strikes have recently become a fashionable act of protest in Egypt and a new challenge to President Hosni Mubarak. Several professional and workers' unions, including doctors and textile employees, have gone on strikes in recent years protesting inflation and demanding higher salaries.
The truckers also went on strike following a draft law that would ban the use of large trailers for safety reasons.
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