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June 25, 2019

Imran seeks to placate jitterynation on tax drive

Top Story

June 25, 2019

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has sought to placate the jittery nation in the government’s attempts to raise tax revenue, and urged Pakistanis for the fourth time to avail the tax amnesty scheme.

“People think their tax [money] will not be spent on them. They believe it will be stolen or will not be spent on them,” he said during an exclusive appearance in Geo News’ programme ‘Pakistan Ke Liye Kar Daalo’ hosted by Hamid Mir on Monday. “However, I promise it will definitely be spent on them.”

Khan’s economic team, revenue minister Hammad Azhar, Federal Board of Revenue Chairman Shabbar Zaidi and his adviser on finance Dr Hafeez Sheikh also appeared on the programme and spoke at length—and answered numerous questions from callers — on the Assets Declaration Scheme, seeking to dispel the myriad misconceptions and misinformation surrounding the subject

The Prime Minister also answered questions posed to him from traders remotely. He gave two assurances during his conversation. “Nobody will be allowed to harass the tax-payers” and

that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) “will be reformed”.

In response to a question about extending the date of the tax amnesty, he said no extension will be given but Sunday will be open to facilitate people. Khan emphasised that payments could be made later but the declarations had to be made by June 30.

Khan also made a special appeal to the people, saying he wished for people to unite like they do at times of floods and earthquakes. “At least register by [June] 30, even if you cannot make payments now. Instalments will also be given [but] no extension after June 30.”

Furthermore, he clarified that non-custom-paid vehicles were not included in the scheme but those vehicles that were custom-paid but not declared can be declared.On the situation, the PM said Pakistan is at a “crossroads”. “There is an English word: crossroads,” Khan said. “We pay the least tax. In the past 10 years, we took many loans” and a lot of the expenditure “goes in the interest on those taxes”.

“We need to get out of this quicksand. We have to change ourselves,” the Premier said in regard to the debt trap, promising things will get better despite the initial difficulties. “In the 60s, Pakistan was on the rise,” he said. “But we don’t pay taxes. There was too much corruption here.”

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