The Bargain

Feedback on the budget is pouring in, and local chambers of commerce as well as traders’ unions are expressing their concerns. Most pronounced are the exporters who, despite their huge sums of taxable profits, feel threatened by the 29% Standard Tax Regime (STR) imposed in the new budget. Call it an IMF-friendly budget, but facts and statistics suggest that Pakistan needs to generate more revenue through taxes. Businesses and industries demand ease of doing business and tax exemptions from the government, but these reliefs have made life unbearable for the lower-income classes.

Each and every sector must now take responsibility and give the state its due tax share. The local formula milk industry avoids paying taxes on the huge sums it makes every year by classifying the product as an essential commodity. It is irresponsible for industry leaders to claim they need tax exemptions. Paying taxes is a matter of taking responsibility and ownership, but after years of enjoying relaxations, businessmen and traders seem reluctant to honor the bargain. The same can be said for the reaction from the rice exporters, who are worried that the FBR will access their account books.

The only sector that has brought revenue to the country is the agriculture sector, which has earned an exemption from taxes. The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry seems to overlook this fact as it urges the government to tax the agriculture sector as well. The economic policy adopted in the Budget 2024-25 is a product of necessity, and the government, with a near-empty exchequer, had little choice but to impose seemingly harsh tax measures. The industry must acknowledge this and play the role of facilitator rather than antagonist.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt