Punjab landlords refuse to pay Islamic agri tax

Published: May 27, 2012

Payment of obligatory tax could raise billions in revenue.

ISLAMABAD: 

Since the Zakat and Usher Ordinance was introduced in 1980, landlords in Punjab in particular have refused to pay Usher, the Islamic tax on agricultural produce, The Express Tribune has learnt.

“The landowners maintain that they were willing to pay either agriculture tax or Usher, but are unwilling to pay both, although they do view Usher as a religious obligation,” Provincial Zakat department’s Deputy Secretary Shabbir Hussain told The Express Tribune.

The auditor general of Pakistan (AGP), in his 2009-10 report, took serious notice of the fact that since 1990, Usher was not being collected by provincial revenue departments throughout the country.

However, Tahir Maqsood, the joint secretary at the Ministry of Religious Affairs, said that Usher has been collected in all the provinces except for Punjab for several years now.

Hussain admitted that the collection of Usher was a crucial issue for the provincial government. He said that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has recently constituted a committee to resolve the issue.

A senior official in the federal ministry of finance said that successive governments have been constantly asking provincial governments to collect Usher from all those farmers who are liable to pay since 1990, but provincial governments have taken no steps in this regard.

“In fact, those who have to execute the Usher ordinance are farmers and growers themselves,” the official told The Express Tribune, requesting anonymity. “The same people are creating obstacles in the implementation of Usher laws.”

Usher was introduced in the country from 1982-83 under the Zakat and Usher Ordinance 1980. The projected potential of Usher in 1980 was estimated at Rs2 to 3 billion. However, Usher collection receipts amounted to Rs39.46 million against the assessed amount of Rs122.70 million in the year 1991-2.

According to landlords, following the imposition of a regular agriculture income tax, Usher has become even more difficult to be rationalised as a tax on agricultural income. Despite the religious nature of its imposition, Usher is conceived to be a direct tax on a farmer’s income.

Following the implementation of the 18th Amendment, Zakat and Usher departments were transferred to provincial governments.

The administrator of Zakat in Lahore, Yousaf Butt, is of the view that new laws are required to collect Usher from farmers. He said an exercise on this issue was in progress in the Punjab government, adding that required legislation would be completed as early as possible.

Correction: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect headline stating “All but Punjab landlords refuse to pay Islamic agri tax” instead of “Punjab landlords refuse to pay Islamic agri tax”. The correction has been made. 

Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2012.

Reader Comments (23)

  • Sahibzada Shabir
    May 27, 2012 - 9:17AM

    If we follow Islamic Financial System Usher, Zakat, Fitrana, No Sood (interest) ……….. believe me all our problems on individual and collective basis will solve.

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  • Mirza
    May 27, 2012 - 9:47AM

    Punjab is the most well to do and corruption free province. If you don’t believe me ask Sharifs. Tax evasion and corruption is limited to smaller provinces only.

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  • Abdullah
    May 27, 2012 - 12:42PM

    Basically this is our country tragedy where businessmen & landlords do ask for benefits but not willing to pay their part for the country secondly finds ways to get out by bribes. Salaries persons who are major hit by tax collection due deducted at source with no returns tax benefits

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  • Al Kuffar
    May 27, 2012 - 12:59PM

    Why should landlords pay Islamic tax? If the landlord is secularist, atheist or non-muslim why should he pay Islamic tax?

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  • Khalq e Khuda
    May 27, 2012 - 2:09PM

    Isn’t the headline erroneous?

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  • Mani
    May 27, 2012 - 2:38PM

    Your headline, The term all but Punjab landlords refuse to pay means that only punjab landlords are paying while everyone else has refused, whereas in the article it states that the tax has been collected everywhere except for Punjab.Recommend

  • PakJam
    May 27, 2012 - 3:12PM

    @Al Kuffar: Good Question…..

    But fortunately or un-fortunately Punjab lies in this Islamic Republic. So … no other option than to pay the Islamic Tax! :P

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  • Al-Kuffar
    May 27, 2012 - 3:45PM

    Because he lives in an Islamic Country. No matter what religion he follows he should follow the Rules of the country!

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  • uc
    May 27, 2012 - 3:49PM

    @Al Kuffar. because till date he is living in the “ISLAMIC REPUBLIC Of PAKISTAN”. So un till the time constitution is changed he (who lives in Pakistan) has to abide by laws based on Islam.

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  • May 27, 2012 - 4:15PM

    Some people rather pay it to deserving people instead of paying to corrupt government.

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  • Parvez
    May 27, 2012 - 4:42PM

    ED : If the Punjab landlords are refusing to pay then your title is wrong, because it says ‘ all but the Punjab landlords refuse to pay ‘

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  • Imran
    May 27, 2012 - 4:58PM

    Moise, then those people should not ask the govt to make roads, schools or provide services like policing.

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  • sars
    May 27, 2012 - 5:58PM

    We will apparently only blindly follow the aspects of the faith that fit in with our own desires……

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  • ashar
    May 27, 2012 - 8:05PM

    Until a complete Islamic government is formed in Pakistan and the rule of shariah is enforced in letter and spirit, any kind of Islamic tax will be of no use, since the collection has to be followed by disbursement of the tax money according to shariah principles. Otherwise the money collected in the name of Islamic tax would be wasted and the system of Islam is nowhere. And exactly this is the case here in Pakistan, which is a country of majority muslim population yet the rule is un-Islamic.

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  • May 27, 2012 - 8:18PM

    Well, most of the water is with Punjab. Most of the agriculture is done in Punjab. And yet Punjabis refuse to pay the Islamic tax. How hypocritical they are!

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  • Cynical
    May 27, 2012 - 8:22PM

    @Al Kuffar

    You asked a good question, but at a wrong place and at the wrong time.

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  • stenson
    May 27, 2012 - 9:59PM

    @Mirza: Ask yourself which province in Pakistan is the most stable and prosperous or developing. It is the Punjab because there is less corruption there than other provinces.

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  • Shakir Lakhani
    May 27, 2012 - 10:14PM

    Non-Muslims don’t have to pay zakat or ushr, they have to pay “jazya” tax (as their contribution as well as for their protection). As far as Punjab being the least corrupt, it’s a joke. There is more tax evasion/capita in Punjab, which also has the most electricity theft. Some factory owners in Punjab have never paid income tax or sales tax, because no government official dare visit their premises.
    And until recently former prime minister Nawaz Sharif used to pay only five thousand rupees a year as income tax.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    May 27, 2012 - 10:35PM

    what is the diff between Usher and Tax hahahhahahha pakistan zindabad.

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  • hasan
    May 28, 2012 - 4:58AM

    “All, but Punjab landlords, pay Islamic agri tax.” This is how the sentence should be written.

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  • May 28, 2012 - 5:35AM

    @Imran:
    Well as long as they are devoting 80%(Dr Mehboobul Haq estimate or Govts’ 60%) of money to their bank accounts and cronies then Usher wont be discharged.

    Better give it someone to deserving instead of paying for VIPs Umrah expenses.

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  • ayesha_khan
    May 28, 2012 - 5:47AM

    ET Admin: Please correct the heading. IT shoudl either be “All but Punjab landlords pay Islamic agri tax” OR “Punjab landlords refuse to pay Islamic agri tax”

    The current headline indicates the exact opposite of what the story says.

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  • Salman Sheikh
    May 28, 2012 - 3:10PM

    @Ali Tanoli:
    Tax is fixed and same for everyone.. Usher is not fixed it have different rates for different people and have obligations as for e.g different terrain. Nothing to laugh about you should have knowledge of it.

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