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PTI offers alternative to government policy of price hikes/increasing GST

The PMLN is now showing its true colours of being a Rich Man’s Club rather than a political party representing all segments of Pakistani society. Chairman PTI has demanded the government immediately rollback GST and the price hike in electricity as these are causing immense suffering to the citizens, especially those who are least able to bear the burden of spiraling inflation and rising indirect taxation.

PTI realizes the economic crisis the country is facing but even before the elections it had provided alternate solutions to resolving the prevailing economic issues without adding to the burden of the ordinary citizen.

Today, as it demands the government rollback the GST and electricity tariff hikes, it is offering more viable and just ways of dealing with the economic crunch, beginning with the enforceable principle that all income should be taxed.

One: Catch the tax evaders. FBR has identified 30 lakh people who should be paying taxes but are not. An immediate Rs. 300 billion can be added to the national exchequer if each of these tax evaders – thieves robbing the state of its dues – is made to pay even Rs 1 lakh although many would be falling into a much higher tax bracket. Additionally, there is about 35 % sales tax evasion in the country and if this is stopped, Rs. 250 billion can be recovered.

Two: Exempted sectors like property and agriculture be brought into the tax net – with agricultural tax being put on produce not a flat rate on holding. Capital Gains Tax must be introduced on property and the stock market and the federal government can take this measure. This will again widen the tax net and be a progressive rather than a regressive tax. The rich in Pakistan have too many legal tax exemptions, while the middle classes and the poor continue to be burdened with increasing indirect taxes. This must change.

Three: Stop gas and electricity theft. Shahbaz Sharif during the election campaign declared that Rs 300 billion was being lost to electricity theft and Rs 600 billion to tax evasion. By ending these thefts, the national exchequer would be richer by Rs 900 billion instead of gaining just Rs 150 billion through raising of the electricity tariff.

Four: Bring back looted money from foreign countries where new laws allow for this. Why has the government not taken advantage of these laws to bring back this money that belongs to the people of Pakistan?

Five: End all money whitening schemes. This is a long overdue measure.

Six: Institution of immediate FBR reform, including making it autonomous.

Seven: An immediate austerity policy where all the Governor Houses in the country should be converted into public buildings, and their gardens into Parks; Present expenses of maintaining these should be made public also. These are colonial remnants and should be converted into museums. Again, each province should have at best only 1 CM House (given security imperatives) and expenditures for that should be made public and drastically reduced. The practice of declaring private residences as “CM House” must end immediately as it puts a further strain on limited state resources.

In effect all state/government extravagance, paid for by the hapless taxpayer of Pakistan, should come to an immediate end.

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