KARACHI: As another year passed, most of the third world nations are still surrounded by poverty and war. However, Pakistan looks better than others in some ways, hence the feel good factor.
According to the World Bank, Pakistan will be the ninth biggest recipient of overseas remittances this year, amounting to almost $14 billion as political and economic crisis in different countries leads to money coming back home. At the same time, the country needs to revamp its tax structure and undertake faster reforms in order to tax various segments, which pay almost nothing compared to the salaried class that pay over 22% of total tax and multinationals that pay the rest.
Another big area that needs to be focused on is coal energy as well as exploration of mineral deposits. We must also analyse how much an average consumer is paying in electricity bills and where wastage can be restricted and cost of living lowered.
Political climate is stagnant for now, but things may get tricky in the next few months, with elections around the corner. Investors are wary in the face of changes that may happen in the aftermath of the polls.
We must identify the vultures, which impact potentially thriving sectors like education, health, manufacturing and social development. Legal and consumer rights must not be exploited, but discovered much more clearly in the light of accountability laws.
People are exploiting each other’s weaknesses and insecurity, instead they should be helping each other. They should be more analytical and open to stricter changes or reforms that will eventually bring about a much stronger demographic outlook, more jobs, less inflation, higher standards of living, affordable housing, lower food cost and higher disposable incomes – all by reforming the tax structure, robustly and efficiently.
Anyone who does not pay tax or does not have an NTN certificate is as much a criminal as the one who steals from his workplace. He may be a bigger criminal as his crime affects the entire nation. If all segments pay tax, we will become a debt-free country starting 2015, subject to accountability of the corrupt whether law enforcement personnel, businessmen, bankers, doctors, lawyers, politicians, judges or lower income workers – everyone needs to stop skimming cash from the books or the buckets.
We have the best of resources and must now ensure that we show high performance through consumer-friendly and nation-friendly reforms, keeping a fair balance.
We still have the chance and we hope for all the good of this country we do not blow the opportunity off this time.
The writer comments on international relations and public policy and is also a banker and broadcaster for FM 91
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2013.
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