ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Sunday said Pakistan today stood bankrupt because of rampant corruption by those in the corridors of power while taxing the rich and powerful was imperative for the survival of Pakistan.
During a post-budget press briefing at a local hotel, Imran said the latest budget, like the previous ones, was a fraud, asking how tax collection was possible when the powerful did not pay taxes.
Imran was flanked by ex-minister and head of PTI’s Policy and Planning Cell, Jehangir Tareen and Assad Umer.About defence, Imran proposed that the armed forces’ budget be properly audited and presented before elected representatives of the people.
The PTI chairman claimed that presently not one or two but four chief minister houses were functioning in the Punjab for Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif, who was staging a drama in the lawns of Minar-e-Pakistan against loadshedding. He said the incompetent regime would resort to massive borrowing once again to meet its needless expenses.
The PTI chief wondered why the president and prime minister had so much discretionary funds and why no one was ever held accountable for the use of secret funds. Imran made it clear that people would not hesitate to pay taxes, but only if they were sure these would not go into the pockets of the corrupt rulers sitting in the government.
Imran vowed his party would take possession of ‘benami’ property, accounts, observe austerity and cut down government expenses for the benefit of the common man. He added that the unprecedented price hikes were recorded in PPP’s four years in power and this was due to the party’s corruption and poor governance.
The PTI chief again billed both the PPP and PML-N as ‘parties of the status-quo’ and ruled out the formation of an alliance with them. He regretted the top leadership of these parties had stashed its wealth abroad, challenging them to bring it back and make public their assets if they sincerely wanted to help Pakistan stand on its own feet.
Referring to the increased allocations of several millions for the Presidency and Prime Minister House despite an acute financial crisis, Imran said the poor man was struggling to afford two meals for his family while the corrupt rulers were leading a lavish lifestyle at the cost of tax-payers’ money. Imran emphasised that saving and observing austerity by the rulers was a must.
Imran claimed 61 percent members of the assemblies never paid taxes and also noted that the powerful politicians had property and assets abroad but tended to conceal them. Similarly, Imran said, leading politicians had wealth and assets under the tag of ‘benami’ accounts to skip payment of taxes.
The PTI chief pointed out that the policy of obtaining loans from foreign donors and taking bank loans had miserably failed and it was now time to broaden the tax net, observe austerity and adopt simplicity by the rulers.
He said it was because of corruption that all the state entities, including PIA, Pakistan Steel Mills and Pakistan Railways, had been ruined, since officers were never allowed to work freely.Imran pointed out Pepco had detected as many as 04 million illegal connections, but the government had stopped the authorities from proceeding against this corrupt practice. Likewise, only 0.185 million AC users paid power bills while the rest always got away without being penalised.
PTI’s senior leader Assad Umer noted that there was an urgent need to launch programmes to fight poverty and other ailments. However, he lamented that the rulers had other priorities such as massively jacking up the budgetary allocations for the President House and Prime Minister House.