Distrust in governments is the biggest hurdle in tax collection, said Imran Khan, chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), in an address to tax lawyers on Wednesday.
“Pakistanis are not willing to pay tax as they know it will be plundered by the ruling elite,” he said in his speech at the Lahore Tax Bar Association.
Unlike with their taxes, Pakistanis were very generous at giving to charity as they knew where their money was going, he said. “I collected Rs2 billion in one month for flood victims.”
Khan criticised the tax amnesty draft bill, saying it would benefit tax evaders and promote dishonesty in business. \“If the poor steal a few thousand rupees they are sent to jail, but if the rich steal a few billion rupees they get amnesty,” he said.
He said if the PTI came to power, it would end political influence in the law enforcement and investigating agencies. “Police, FIA and NAB will be free from the clutches of the Interior Ministry to ensure rule of law and accountability without discrimination,” he said.
The PTI would adopt austerity in public affairs, he said. Development funds would be spent through local governments and use of tax money would be transparent and fair, he said.
Khan said he had learnt about the rule of law and true democracy from the UK when he went there to study at the age of 18. All segments of society were equal in the eyes of the law in that country. The UK was a welfare state where taxes were received from the affluent and spent on the poor.
The gross domestic product (GDP) of the UK was equal to that of 55 Muslim countries because corrupt politicians ruled those countries, Khan said.
He criticised the PPP and the PML-N, saying that the leaders of these parties were corrupt and incompetent. Only the PTI had the vision and wisdom to steer the country towards prosperity, he said.
Imran said if voted in to power, the PTI would withdraw from the War on Terror, which was costing the Pakistani economy Rs70 billion per month.
Major government assets such as the palatial governor houses would be converted into sports grounds and libraries, he said.
The PTI condemns Israeli atrocities in Palestine, Khan concluded.
Earlier, economist Dr Akramul Haq, Lahore Tax Bar Association President Zahid Attiq and Pakistan Tax Bar Association President Zulifqar Khan addressed the function.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2012.