LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has claimed that he is the only Pakistani who generates Rs9 billion annually from the country.
“I am the only Pakistani who collects Rs9 billion annually to meet expenses of my humanitarian projects. This means people are willing to give their money, but to those people or institutions, which they trust,” said Khan while addressing textile-sector industrialists on Thursday.
He argued that people in Pakistan were willing to pay taxes, but the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) lacked the capacity due to the absence of institution-building initiatives on the part of the government. That resulted in imposition of indirect taxes that were hurting the honest taxpayers and industrialists, he added.
The cricketer-turned-politician remarked that the FBR always penalised genuine taxpayers, but lacked the capacity to take a stand against powerful mafias. “For such influential [people], they announce tax amnesty schemes, which often are in line with the interests of the mafias.”
The PTI chairman reiterated that institutional building was the key to taking a country forward. Talking about his government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), he said, “In K-P, we have strengthened the institutions and as a result the flow of investment in the province has increased.”
Referring to the current economic scenario and the unemployment rate in the country, Khan said it was the duty of any government to generate employment. “Unfortunately unemployment in Pakistan is at its peak and there is no wealth creation or other clear plan as to how this can be handled.”
He pointed out that by taking huge loans, Pakistan’s sovereignty had been compromised over the years.
“Why we got involved in the Soviet Union war or Americas war on terror. Decision-makers of that time saw dollars coming for them in that way,” Khan said, adding “the other reason was that we were not in the position to say no to those powers due to lack of our sovereignty.”
Talking about exports, he remarked that regional countries had managed to increase their exports, but Pakistan’s exports were diminishing, which meant that there was a reason that should be addressed.
“Turkey, Malaysia and other such countries have moved remarkably due to their visionary and non-corrupt leadership. No leader of such Muslim world is running any business empire but the case in Pakistan is reverse,” he said
Sharing his plans, Khan said that if his party came to power, he would increase the FBR’s capacity to meet the country’s expenses.
“We will reduce the energy cost and provide all stakeholders a level playing field by implementing a long-term initiative to support the industry.”
Speaking on the occasion, PTI leader Asad Umar explained that the increasing trade deficit and unemployment were the two most serious economic challenges faced by the country.
Speaking to members of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, he said the energy cost was a serious problem for the manufacturing sector, adding that the government should bring down energy cost in line with the competing economies.
“The difference between the cost and supply will have to be borne by the state. Only then will the industries become globally competitive,” Umar said.
He was of the view that electricity supply to the industries at a competitive rate would help flourish industrial activities and exports.
While terming LNG imports necessary in view of gas shortage in the country, Umar expressed surprise at the expensive LNG being supplied to the most productive sector of the economy.
On the other hand, low-priced domestic gas was made available to the non-productive sectors.
He announced that the PTI had formulated a long-term trade policy under which it would supply power at 7.5 cents and LNG at $6.5 per mmbtu to the industries.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2018.