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Taxes & social welfare model

Under the existing tax system, less-privileged segments of society are subjected to oppressive taxation. What makes the situation more painful is the fact that money collected as revenues is used less for the welfare of public and more to finance the luxuries and benefits of elites-militro-judicial-civil complex, businessmen-turned-politicians, absentee landowners in power. The elites enjoy tax-free perquisites, benefits, including expensive plots at prime locations. The way our governments-military and civilian alike-have been wasting and plundering the taxpayers’ money is not a secret. Since independence, no serious effort has ever been made to undertake institutional reforms to democratise our mighty militro-judicial-civil apparatus that has miserably failed to deliver.
Pakistan has failed to achieve durable political stabilisation and fast economic growth due to perpetual failure of the ruling elites. The twin menace of burgeoning debt and monstrous fiscal deficit testify to continuous fiscal mismanagement. The government has to borrow more and more money-externally and internally-just to meet day to day expenses. The historic high fiscal deficit of 8.9% of GDP for Fiscal Year 2018-19, posed enormous challenge for the Government of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) that also inherited record public debt, trade deficit and current account deficit. The callous economic policies of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) from 2013 to 2018 left the PTI Government with no choice but to seek yet another bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and resort to massive rupee devaluation along with austerity measures leading to stagflation. The result of IMF-imposed policies is: Trade deficit fell from $11.7 billion from July-October of FY18-19 to $7.8bn during the same period this year and current account deficit dropped to $1 billion a month (in FY2019) compared to $2 billion a month in FY 2018. However, total debt & liabilities as on September 30, 2019 rose to Rs. 41.5 trillion and inflation to 11% in October 2019.
The country is surviving on bailouts from IMF due to perpetual failure of the ruling elite to tax the rich and mighty and cutting enormous expenditure that are over 21% of GDP. Revenues worth trillions of rupees have been sacrificed by governments-civil and military alike-since 1977 extending unprecedented exemptions and concessions to the privileged classes.
The dire need in today’s Pakistan is to tap the real tax potential and make the country a self-reliant economy, stop wasteful, unproductive expenses, cut the size of cabinet and government machinery, restructure or privatise loss-bearing government-owned corporations, accelerate industrialisation and increase productivity, improve agricultural sector, reduce inequalities through a policy of redistribution of income and wealth. It is high time that professionals and civil society campaign against oppressive, anti-people tax policies and relentlessly raise their voice for establishment of an egalitarian state.
We can make Pakistan a self-reliant and prosperous country through fiscal decentralisation and grass root taxation at local government level. There is nothing to be pessimistic. Solutions are available. The only thing we require is to present the same, debate these publically and convince our political parties to make them part of their manifestos. Elections should be fought on these issues and with the pledge that on winning, they would be tackled and solved.
Municipal taxation should be our top priority as envisaged under Article 140A of the Constitution. Political, administrative and fiscal decentralisation is the key to democratisation of institutions. This is the most neglected area in Pakistan. Article 140A requires that decision-making power should be with the elected local governments. A council, elected by the residents, must enjoy the right to levy municipal taxes. Municipalities should be given wide-ranging powers. Extensive functions that fall within the specific sphere of authority must include education, health care and social welfare services. The municipalities should also be responsible for matters related to the residents’ free-time, recreation, housing, and the management and maintenance of their living environment (i.e. roads, streets, water supply and sewerage), as well as land-use planning and functional municipal structures.



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Pakistan squad for ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2020 named

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