Once again, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva has advised the Caretaker Prime Minister to “please collect more taxes from the wealthy and protect the poor people of Pakistan.” There is no rocket science involved in this, as this is precisely the practice adopted by nations for centuries. She has previously given the same advice to former Prime Minister Shahbaz and his predecessor Imran Khan, among others. It is the root cause of the economic ills afflicting Pakistan and its sovereignty. Every democratic and sovereign state must impose uniform direct taxation on all sources of income, with no exceptions.
A country must have enough revenue to conduct the affairs of the state, provide welfare to the most deprived, and invest in human resource development, including education and health. Indirect taxation should only be levied after a state has exhausted all avenues of direct taxation. Yet, starting in 1958, every dictator and civilian government at the helm has persisted in the policy of granting subsidies to the affluent elite and protecting cartels, with paid and elected public office holders leading ostentatious lives of luxury at the state’s expense. To achieve self-sufficiency in agriculture, it is essential for the state to allocate land to those who till it. This gives them an incentive to increase yields and produce enough agricultural food to meet domestic needs and export surpluses. On the other hand, we have promoted absentee land holdings by allotting state lands to paid public office holders for performing duties for which they are already paid.
The people of this country are, in a manner of speaking, responsible because they have allowed both elected and dictatorial regimes to dupe them by exploiting religion, sowing seeds of ethnic and sectarian divide, etc., while the elite continues with what it has been doing since 1958. People need to stand up and ask questions of political parties about their economic agendas and plans instead of listening to their tales of suffering, as nobody has suffered more than the citizens of Pakistan.
MALIK TARIQ ALI,