ISLAMABAD: Stressing on significance of tax payment, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said only 1.7 million people were paying tax, which couldn’t support 210 million population of Pakistan.
Addressing a ceremony to honour taxpayers in Islamabad, PM Khan said the government couldn’t bear overall expenses under the current ratio of taxpayers in the country. He said indirect tax is collected from poor people, which is a great injustice. He said Pakistan had great potential and it could raise the revenue collection up to Rs 8 trillion.
The prime minister said collecting zakat from wealthy people and spending it on poor people was the fundamental principle of the State of Madinah. He said Pakistan couldn’t be made a welfare state without following that principle.
Imran Khan said just after coming into power, he launched austerity drive in the government to save tax payers’ money. He said he bore all his personal expenditure and contrary to previous rulers he had not declared any place as his camp office.
The prime minister said it was ironic that a common man was also paying a similar amount of tax that he was paying. Khan said Pakistan was one of the top countries with low tax collection ratio. “I’ve reduced the expenditure of PM House by 30 percent and now we are saving Rs 300 million through this measure”, he stated.
PM Khan said annually Rs 6 billion were given in charity to the Shaukat Khanum Hospital, adding people give donations only when they were sure their amount would be utilized transparently.
He vowed to expand tax collection net and ease obstacles faced by taxpayers at the moment. “This target can only be achieved by winning the trust of people,” he stated.
Meanwhile, terming money laundering a grave threat for the country, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday directed the relevant government departments to ramp up measures to curb it.
Presiding over a meeting held to review the measures taken by the government to fight the menace of money laundering, the prime minister said it had pushed the nation into the quagmire of debt.
During the meeting, the interior secretary gave the prime minister a detailed briefing on anti-money laundering efforts. Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General Asim Munir made a special participation in the meeting.
Speaking on the occasion, the premier said, “The people involved in money laundering are the nation’s culprits. Such elements deserve no leniency.”
The national kitty suffered losses after individuals looted the nation’s wealth to fill their own pockets, he said. It is important to note here that Pakistan’s efforts to combat money laundering and terror financing had satisfied the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to an extent.
In January, Pakistan’s delegation headed by Finance Secretary Arif Ahmed Khan attended a three-day conference of the FATF in Sydney. The delegation included officials of the Financial Monitoring Unit, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
The anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing body had expressed its satisfaction over the steps taken by Pakistan, the sources further said.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan declared on Wednesday that there will be no comprise on the sovereignty of the country.
Chairing a meeting of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) parliamentary party at the Parliament House, the prime minister said, “The message [Pakistan] had to give to India has already been given. We have given India a clear message on Pulwama attack.”
Advising against the escalation of tensions between the two neighbouring countries, he said Pakistan will act like a responsible state. “There will be no compromise on the country’s sovereignty,” he avowed.
Briefing the participants of the meeting about the recent visit of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS), PM Khan said the Saudi royal’s visit remained highly successful. “Muhammad bin Salman expressed no trust in previous governments,” he claimed and quoted the dignitary as saying that Pakistan’s previous leadership was not trustworthy.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister approved in principle, the draft Strategic Economic Framework between Pakistan and Turkey at a meeting held here.
The Prime Minister directed for early finalization of the framework aiming at transforming the bilateral relations between the two countries into a broader growing strategic economic relationship. He directed relevant ministries to vigorously pursue this framework and put in place strong institutional arrangements for its implementation, once finalized.
The meeting was attended by relevant federal ministers and secretaries including Finance, Information and Broadcasting, IPC, Health, Commerce, Energy, Chairman BOI and others.
Secretary EAD gave a detailed briefing on the contents and contours of the proposed framework.
It was informed that during the Prime Minister’s visit to Turkey in the first week of January this year, the top leadership of the two sides had agreed to transform the bilateral relationship into a long-term strategic trade, investment and economic relationship based on the principles of reciprocity and fairness. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said thegovernment will play a leading role in mainstreaming marginalized youth by scaling up youth empowerment initiatives of United Nations Development Program.
He said this in a meeting with Special Assistant on Youth Affairs Muhammad Usman Dar and UNDP’s Resident Representative in Pakistan Ignacio Artaza here on Wednesday. Imran Khan said skill development especially of FATA youth is a priority area.
Usman Dar informed the Prime Minister of joint efforts being made along with the UNDP to engage youth groups and stakeholders on government’s upcoming youth initiatives such as the first ever National Youth Conference, National Youth Development Index and National Youth Development Programme.
Usman Dar appreciated UNDP’s technical and resource assistance for the government’s efforts to design the National Youth Development Programme that will serve as an umbrella platform for all youth focused initiatives.
Meanwhile, a British delegation headed by Pakistani origin Baroness Sayeeda Warsi called on Prime Minister Imran Khan here on Wednesday and discussed the regional situation.
Prime Minister Imran Khan highlighted atrocities being committed by Indian forces in Kashmir and the jingoism and war hysteria being created by the Indian government.
The delegation appreciated the steps being taken by the government in tackling various challenges including economic, good governance and eradication of corruption. Baroness Syeda Warsi also appreciated vision and leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfikar Abbass Bukhari was also present in the meeting.
Meanwhile, UK’s Secretary of State for Department for International Development (DFID) and Minister for Women Development and Equalities Penny Mordaunt called on Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on Wednesday and discussed matters of mutual interest including region situation.
Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister appreciated DFID’s continued engagement with the country especially in education sector and skill development. He emphasized on further strengthening partnership in skill development which is critical for employment of the youth of the country.
Special Advisor to Secretary of State Lynn Davidson, British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew, Head of DFID Pakistan Joanna Reid were also present on the occasion.
Chairman Board of Investment Haroon Sharif, Special Advisor to Prime Minister Naeem-ul-Haq, Secretary Interior and others also attended the meeting. – NNI