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Saturday April 13, 2024

Govt vows to target smugglers, hoarders, manipulators

COAS Munir assures Pakistan Army’s support to government’s initiative aiming at economic recovery

By Ag App & Our Correspondent
March 30, 2024
PM Shehbaz Sharif  (left) chairs a high level meeting attended by COAS General Asim Munir and other senior officials in Islamabad on March 27, 2024. — APP
PM Shehbaz Sharif  (left) chairs a high level meeting attended by COAS General Asim Munir and other senior officials in Islamabad on March 27, 2024. — APP

ISLAMABAD: Civil and army top leadership Friday showed firm resolve to take action against smugglers, hoarders and market manipulators who have impacted the economic trajectory.

In this regard Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chaired a high-level meeting that was attended by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir, the chief ministers, members of the federal cabinet and high-level government officials.

The agenda of the meeting was ‘Measures against Spectrum of Illegal Activities and Criminal Mafias’.

The participants were briefed in detail on steps taken against the criminal mafias, smuggling, hoarding, money laundering, power theft and repatriation of illegal foreigners etc.

The COAS assured unwavering resolve of the Pakistan Army to support government’s initiatives aimed at economic recovery of the country.

The participants acknowledged the importance of such actions and their positive impact on the economy and well-being of the people of Pakistan.

The meeting gave approval of agreements among the federal and provincial governments on anti-power theft policy, restructuring of power distribution companies on modern lines, installation of smart meters for full eradication of power theft, and ordered strict action against the corrupt officers.

The prime minister directed all the stakeholders to vigorously pursue various initiatives against spectrum of illegal activities and criminal mafias to ensure their accomplishment within stipulated time frame.

While chairing the meeting, Shehbaz said the government would not allow any political or bureaucratic interference in its move to curb smuggling, corruption, power theft and tax evasion in the country.

“No political and bureaucratic influence will be allowed to interfere in this major surgery which we have to undertake collectively for the good of Pakistan and its 250 million people,” he said.

He said it was very important to understand the real challenges of the country and then immediately fix them to revive and stabilise the economy.

For this, he added, all stakeholders, including the provinces, institutions, and armed forces, would have to collaborate with the federal government to tackle one of the most important challenge of revival of economy.

The prime minister said illegal trade and smuggling were the biggest challenges that had badly dented the country’s economy.

He recalled that in 2022, the coalition government allowed export of 250,000 tons of sugar, but it had to withdraw its decision “because we were told that the surplus target was not up to that level”.

However, he said, the same amount of sugar was later exported to Afghanistan.

Similarly, the prime minister pointed out that the country had to face loss of around Rs400 to 500 billion annually in term of power theft besides leakages, transmission losses and line losses of electricity.

As regards tax revenues, he said the government’s target this year was Rs9 trillion. But it has the potential of collecting Rs4 trillion extra revenues by streamlining the tax system and by curbing corruption and tax evasion.

He said a tax amount of Rs2.7 trillion was still under litigation either in tribunals or in appellant courts. The government, he said, would try its best to recover this amount.

Appreciating the efforts of the COAS in curbing smuggling and power theft, the prime minister said during the nine months of interim government, an amount of Rs58 billion was saved in power sector.

Similarly, a significant improvement was witnessed in smuggling in the country due to the commitment, will-to-do, and cooperation of all provinces, and the personal commitment and interest of the COAS, he added.

Besides initiating reforms in certain sectors, he added, the government was also committed to promote industry and agriculture sector in the country.

He said that the government had chalked out a plan to fully digitise the system of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to boost the tax revenues in the country.

He said the well-reputed and honest officers will be encouraged while the corrupt element will be discouraged.

As regards law and order situation, the prime minister said the government was determined to foil the evil designs of the enemy.

Meanwhile, the prime minister gave additional charge of Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan to Amir Muqam, Federal Minister for State and Frontier Regions (Safron).

According to a notification issued by the Cabinet Division, the additional charge of National Heritage and Culture has been withdrawn from the minister for Safron.