Giving relief to the poor

As elections draw near, ev­ery political party, including those that have held power, is in campaign mode, promising the moon to the masses. All stake­holders, including politicians and the establishment, are aware that fiscal space with sufficient reve­nue from direct taxation is cru­cial to providing relief by waiving indirect taxes on electricity bills, essential items, subsidised edu­cation, and healthcare. The suffer­ing of the poor, who bear the bur­den of indirect taxation, cannot be blamed on the IMF.

For decades, those in power fa­cilitated tax relief for big land­lords, the real estate sector, tobac­co, retail and wholesale traders, etc. Relief for the poor can only be possible if those in power are willing to increase taxes on these sectors, which have enjoyed tax privileges for decades. A mere 2% increase in tax on these sectors could offset the revenue shortfall from indirect taxation and narrow the widening budget deficit.

Curbing smuggling of essential items like sugar, wheat, fertilis­ers, and foreign exchange across our western borders would pro­vide ample stocks to meet de­mand and control price esca­lation. Excess produce should be exported to earn foreign ex­change or engage in barter trade. It is time for our nation to priori­tise the welfare of its citizens.

Every government, be it PPP, PMLN, PTI, PMLQ, or Musharraf’s regime, has been involved in facil­itating irregularities by these car­tels. The IMF’s inquiry revolves around how the federal govern­ment plans to compensate for the reduction in indirect taxes on ba­sic essentials. Mere rhetoric about providing relief is nothing but a deception of the people.



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