GILGIT: The provincial president of Pakistan Muslim League-N Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) has said that the establishment has deliberately turned the people of GB into a ‘tax stealing’ community, in an attempt to perpetuate a weak political system in the region.
“The habit of not paying taxes has been nurtured into people in an attempt to keep the bureaucratic setup strong,” said Hafizur Rehman, the chief of PML-N’s provincial chapter at a press conference on Wednesday.
“This is one of the reasons why people of G-B have been allowed to keep luxurious but non-customs paid vehicles with them,” he said, adding that the people of G-B are denied a strong provincial system, which exists elsewhere in Pakistan, because it would mean complete imposition of taxes.
“But I think all those who have big money should be taxed while the poor should be given further relief,” he said, adding that G-B is a unique place where people are not required to declare their assets.
The PML-N provincial chief said that the system of self-governance was handed over to people who lack the capacity to run it. The elected representatives should be trained before taking over their posts, he said.
Commenting on the truncated budget of the region, the PML-N chief said that the annual budget for G-B in 2006 totalled nearly Rs7 billion, but it had been reduced to Rs4 billion in 2010. “This is the incompetence of the Pakistan Peoples Party government in G-B and at the centre,” he said. Hafizur Rehman said that the federal government indirectly levies taxes on all the commodities being supplied to the region, raising annual revenue of about Rs24 billion.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2010.
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