LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly on Wednesday passed two bills empowering the local governments (LGs) to impose a 5% tax on immovable urban property and generate revenue independently.
The opposition strongly protested and differed with the bills, termed the same a burden on the masses which have already been paying a number of different taxes.
The opposition legislators claimed there were several loopholes in the bills as there was no proper definition and distinction between rural and urban properties. The leaders said no definition was available for properties on which the tax would be imposed.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Pakistan leader Arif Abbasi said it is tantamount to collecting extortion in the garb of such amendment bills. “There is no proper mechanism to spend the tax amount already collected from poor people, while civic amenities such as health, education, electricity, gas, water, law and order were still in shambles.
He was of the view that there would be no need to impose new taxes and introduce such bills if the looted money of the Panama scandal was recovered. He also pointed to $200 billion in different Swiss bank accounts.
Defending the bill, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the opposition should carefully study the contents of amendment bills as their arguments were nothing more than a storm in a teacup.
He explained that the tax would be imposed on only urban properties. He said the provincial government wants to empower local bodies which would not collect more than 5% tax.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2017.
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