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Corruption not being considered a crime: PM Imran

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January 11, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday said the society has accepted corruption as a norm and it is not considered a crime, and status quo is in vogue everywhere.

He said in order to change the society and mindset, the nation would have to consider corruption as an evil, otherwise it could not be eliminated just through law enforcement. He said any NRO to the opposition leaders for their corruption cases would ease out his life but it would be disastrous for the country.

"Any NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) will make my life far easier but it will be disastrous for the country. During the last 10 years, they had given NROs to each other and consequently the country’s debt swelled four-fold. Then no one was questioning anyone. There was the same NAB (National Accountability Bureau) which was disturbing none at that time," the prime minister said in a conversation with the digital media publishers and broadcasters.

During an hour-long interaction with audience comprising journalists, social activists, YouTubers and educationists with huge following on social media, Imran Khan recalled both the NROs were given by Pervez Musharraf, which had damaged the country to a great extent. “They had overburdened the country underdebts that half of the revenue today goes to debt payment leaving the government with short of resources to spend for public welfare,” he said.

The premier said any such exemption undermined the nation's moral standards which the opposition leaders had unfortunately done, with even the media showing leniency towards their corruption of multimillion rupees, ignoring its real role of a watchdog.

He said no one in any civilised country could ever think of its prime minister or foreign minister obtain iqama (work permit) to launder the money abroad.

The prime minister said the moral downfall preceded the economic downfall of any nation. “Some third world nations with plenty of natural resources are poor just because their leaders were involved in corruption,” he said.

Imran Khan said it took long and required tough decisions to challenge the status quo, and exemplified China which jailed its over 400 ministerial level people for their corruption and thus elevated the nation out of poverty. Imran Khan viewed the least corrupt governments were the most prosperous.

Calling it a "classic case", the prime minister referred to a question by a news anchor as to why Khawaja Asif was jailed for corruption of "just" Rs220 million. “It reflected the downing of a nation's morality,” he added.

Meanwhile, the prime minister was told that tax receipts had surpassed Rs2,205 billion during first six months of current fiscal, which is a record, manifesting the fruition of government taxation reforms.

Chairing a meeting to review tax reforms, the prime minister was briefed that owing to tax reforms, growth in number of taxpayers had been witnessed. Federal ministers Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Shibli Faraz Hammad Azhar, Adviser to PM Dr Ishrat Hussain, Special Assistant on Revenue Dr Waqar Masood, Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Javed Ghani and relevant senior officers attended the meeting, a PM Office statement said.

It was told that tax collection was being automated and taxpayers were being given incentives. The automation of the taxation system would enhance transparency and reduce corruption and tax evasion. The meeting was told that tax form had been made far easier for the small and medium enterprises by reducing its pages from five to one and entries from 200 to just 24.The prime minister was told that owing to the introduction of direct link between FBR’s system and company through point of sale system, the receipt of sales tax has also increased.

The prime minister appreciated the federal ministers, SAPM on revenue and FBR chairman for bringing about taxation reforms. He viewed that the taxpayers were in fact the benefactors for the country who deserved applause. He said problems exist because tax machinery is corrupt. He called for measures to introduce measures for encouragement of taxpayers.

Meanwhile, the prime minister said that rare species, including the Himalayan brow bear would be protected in the just announced Karakoram National Park.

He tweeted, “The Himalayan brown bear in Pakistan’s just announced Karakoram National Park. Other rare species that will be protected in this National Park will be the snow leopard and the magnificent marco polo sheep.”

The prime minister also tweeted to say he was saddened to learn of the death of Seth Abid Hussain. He said he was one of the early donors of SKMT. He extended condolences and prayers to Seth Abid Hussain’s family.