A day after the army chief made a statement at Ghazi base vowing to preserve the dignity of the military, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif declared the supremacy of the Parliament over other institutions in the National Assembly on Tuesday.
In the defence of parliament, which he said can hold other institutions accountable, the minister said, “Parliament is a supreme organ of the state and it would preserve its dignity besides having a respect for all other institutions.”
Reportedly, Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafiq clarified that the media has wrongly linked the army chief’s speech with the defence minister’s and termed the army chief’s statement as “purely professional”.
PTI motion on MP taxes accepted
The lower house of the parliament accepted on Tuesday a motion to constitute a special committee to probe the allegation of non-payment of taxes by a number of parliamentarians and report the matter within 90 days.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Member of National Assembly (MNA) Asad Umar moved the motion.
The treasury benches also backed the resolution and constitution of the 10-member committee to investigate the matter. The motion says that the committee should consist of not more than 10 members belonging to major political parties.
Umar moved the motion on behalf of his party, saying the constitution of the special committee was important because people deem the majority of parliamentarians as tax evaders.
“It is in the national interest that the issue should be investigated properly and the report be made public,” he said, adding that the investigation on the matter would help restore people’s confidence in the elected body. PTI chairman Imran Khan said tax evasion and poor tax collection are one of the major stumbling blocks in the way of the country’s progress and prosperity.
The total income of Pakistan stands at around Rs2.4 trillion while the expenditure exceeds Rs4 trillion, he said, adding the country is paying Rs1.3 trillion in debt servicing alone.
“It has been 11 months of the PML-N being in power but so far no tax reforms have been introduced,” he said, adding that poor tax collection can compromise the country’s independence. Imran said that if the government fails to broaden the tax net, the country would not be able to provide education and food to the growing population. “Pakistan is amongst the 10 countries where the tax to GDP ratio is the lowest,” he said.
Talking about his own tax returns and assets, he said the government should start an audit of his tax details. “If anything fishy surfaces during investigation of my tax details and assets, I should be sent behind bars,” he said.
He also said that the government should confiscate all his secret and undeclared assets in Pakistan and abroad, if any are found. The government is passing the burden of inflation and price hike to poor people because it is hesitant to broaden the tax net and levy direct taxes on the rich and well-off people, he maintained.
“If rich people are not brought into the tax net, it could help spread anarchy and chaos in the country,” he said, adding that even the French Revolution was caused by the then poor taxation system of the country.
Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting, Law and Justice Senator Pervaiz Rashid said that the treasury benches also agreed to constitute a special committee to probe the non-payment of tax issue.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2014.