Are Seaview vendors contributing to Economy?

By Hamna Iqbal Baig, Haseeb Zubair, Aqsa Mansoor, Kinza Tahir & Musab Ghouri

KARACHI : As the temperature rises people in Karachi rush to sea view. As the sun grows beneath the shore the day is set for the show, an old man from Mardan tightens the rope around his horse and a chai wala wipes the mugs from a cloth that in the later part of the day will be used to wipe everything but the mugs.

The sheer sound of the waves go dim as the day sets. It’s like a coup on the bureaucracy of sand and shore. A platoon of sellers from different parts of Pakistan geared up with all their tools gather on the sidewalks and the power isn’t shifted until midnight.

Clifton beach appeared as a busy beach on a Saturday afternoon. On one side, it is crowded with people – enjoying the sea breeze, dipping their feet in the water and riding a camel or a horse. On the contrary, the opposite side is cluttered with stalls offering a variety of food and drinks to people who come to the beach. Chana chaat, Pakoras, Gol gappay, Fish, Cholay, Lal Sharbat, Limo Pani – you name it.

Various stalls lined up at Sea view’s footpath. PHOTO: HAMNA IQBAL

The beach provides employment to so many vendors but are these vendors really contributing to the country’s economy? We were seeking an answer to this question.

Reports suggest that provinces, overall, contribute about 7% of tax and 9% of non-tax revenues of the country. Karachi ranks on top on the basis of average overall tax collection between 2000 and 2016 — it has an average of 62.4% followed by Lahore 13.63%, Rawalpindi 8.33%, Multan at 5.50% and Peshawar at 3.3%. Millions of migrants from other provinces flock to Karachi to earn their living. Billions are remitted to their families based outside Karachi.

An insight into the vendors’ lives

Parallel economy infoooooooooo2
Infographic : Income of and tax paid by vendors.

As we looked into the seaview vendor’s business dealings, they claim to contribute to the economy of Pakistan by paying taxes. A seashell handicraft stall owner caught our attention who was setting up his stall in the scorching heat. “We give tax to the contractors hired by Clifton Cantonment Board on a daily basis”, says Riyasat Ali.

He was quick to show us a tax slip given to him by a CBC representative the very same day. “All cart owners – be it the Pakora, Chana Chat  or Juice wala pay Rs.200 to CBC”.

A tax slip given to a cart owner by a CBC contractor. PHOTO: AQSA MANSOOR
Riasat Ali, setting up his Sea-shell handicrafts stall. PHOTO: HAMNA IQBAL
Noor Bux, a camel owner in search of a ride. PHOTO: AQSA MANSOOR


“We pay yearly tax of Rs.20,000 to DHA who are rebuilding or renovating the canteen, says Aslam a canteen owner.


Customers buying goods from an under construction canteen at Sea view. PHOTO: Haseeb Zubair
A pakora vendor waits for his customers. PHOTO: HAMNA IQBAL
A photographer carries a camera and photo album. PHOTO: HASEEB ZUBAIR

The vendors, sometimes scuffed by the police, empty their pockets to them whilst also paying the daily tax to CBC.

Photo Gallery

Write up : Hamna Iqbal, Musab Ghouri, Kinza Tahir, Aqsa Mansoor & Haseeb Zubair

Photos : Hamna Iqbal, Aqsa Mansoor and Haseeb Zubair

Video : Haseeb Zubair

Infographic : Kinza Tahir                


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