Public outrage over economic hardships, tax burdens

By Khalid Iqbal
June 24, 2024
A representational image showing people walking past a market area. — AFP/File

Islamabad:A common man who was already leading a tense life showed widespread anger towards the government due to significant tax hikes, inflation, unemployment, lawlessness, bad governance, and non-practical press conferences in the country. The government aimed to boost state revenues to achieve approval for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout to prevent another economic crisis, but this has burdened the common man, according to citizens of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.


This attitude has sparked dismay and frustration among the public, who was hoping for relief but is now facing increased financial burdens. Meanwhile, bosses were not ready to sacrifice their luxurious lifestyles. In reality, the common man was already paying several taxes including Income Tax, General Sales Tax (GST), Capital Value Tax (CVT), Value Added Tax (VAT), Central Sales Tax (CST), Service Tax (ST), Fuel Adjustment Charges (FAC), Petrol Levy, Excise Duty, Customs Duty, Octroi Tax, TDS Tax, Employment Status Indicator Tax (ESI Tax), Property Tax, Government Stamp Duty, Usher, Zakat, Local Cess, PTV License, Capital Gain Tax (CGT), Water Tax, Flood Tax, Professional Tax, Road Tax, Toll Gate Fee, Securities Transaction Tax (STT), Education Cess, Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), Congestion Levy Compulsory Deduction, Super Tax, Withholding Taxes, Education Fee, and many other hidden taxes. Citizens bemoaned how the public will survive with this situation.

Nida Sheikh, a final year student, questioned how the inflation ratio reduced to only 12 per cent from over 40 per cent, citing that other essential items continued to sell at skyrocketing prices. Shahzad Ahmed, a common citizen, criticised the government for bad governance in public sector departments and highlighted the increasing street crimes, high living costs, and ever-increasing inflation.

Dr. Uzma Irfan expressed concerns about being taxed even on small items like matchsticks and emphasised that the government heavily relies on their taxes. The budget sets a challenging tax revenue target of 13 trillion rupees (US dollar 47 billion) for the fiscal year, including a significant increase in direct and indirect taxes as well as non-tax revenue. The citizens of Rawalpindi and Islamabad highlighted exorbitant prices for vegetables and other essential items. They warned about an unrest situation if an assistant commissioner continued to use luxurious cars to check market prices. All edible and non-edible items were increasing in prices, and citizens criticised the government for presenting a bright picture of society in their press conferences and baseless meetings.