Tuesday August 09, 2022

Despite good lifestyle, people don’t pay taxes: PM Imran Khan

By Our Correspondent
February 16, 2022
Despite good lifestyle, people don’t pay taxes: PM Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday regretted that there are many people who don't pay taxes despite having a good lifestyle.

While addressing the launching ceremony of Pakistan's first instant payment system 'Raast' here, he warned that the government would use technology in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) affairs to trace those involved in tax evasion.

The prime minister said that out of 220 million people, only 20 million people pay taxes. “We are reaching out through technology those who do not pay taxes and I would like to warn them that we would reach you. Because we have their data, which is coming very fast”.

He said that after five years in 2023, when the PTI government assessment would be made, he would see only one thing, whether poverty had been reduced; and if so, he would take it as his success. “We will see if there had been prosperity in the country at that time and had it trickled down and if we brought people out of poverty,” he added.

The PM said, “And remember, it is an era of Covid pandemic, and even in the richest countries poverty has increased and the downtrodden has been grinded further. “However, still according to the World Bank report, poverty has been reduced, though a little, and I still consider it our success”.

PM Imran Khan said that the population of 220 million was a huge strength of any country, big market and if these 220 million people are involved in the formal economy and then take them towards the modern technological tools, then they are our great strength. The prime minister continued that “if we would not benefit from the technological advances and the majority of population would remain out of the formal economy, then these 220 million would become a burden”. He pointed out that the Digital Pakistan is a path towards that journey to make 220 million people our asset and this would be a reality, when they would be part of the formal economy.

The prime minister lauded the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) governor over the success of programmes like Roshan Pakistan and Raast and said that he should have a cell to monitor it. The PM claimed to having received complaints from Pakistanis living abroad that they were facing difficulties in sending money through Roshan account; it is necessary to create facilities because Pakistanis abroad are our biggest asset. “Overseas Pakistanis have played a significant role by sending remittances to the country, which has increased our foreign exchange reserves, so it is our responsibility to facilitate them,” he added. He said that ration programme would also be included directly so that we could give access to the program to the lower class also.

Earlier, referring to Pakistan's first instant payment system, SBP Governor Reza Baqir said that Raast was a digital payment system, which would help make online payments. He said that the SBP was trying its best to work on digitization.

The SBP governor said, “We have made it easy to pay directly, all users have to do is register an ID with their mobile number. We are receiving applications from institutions for digitalised banking; in this program, we will issue licences to 5 institutions”.

Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said: “When I took over the banking sector, transactions were done by cheque, and it used to take several days; but direct remittances would be made in minutes”. He said that other institutions including the SBP had worked hard and when it goes from 'person to person' to 'person to merchant', it will further increase bank savings and this is our next step. He said that IT experts believe that this will revolutionise the growth of IT, because the design of the application is the responsibility of IT.

APP adds: In an interview with French daily Le Figaro, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the possibility of ending the current stalemate with India was linked to restoration of Indian occupied Kashmir’s autonomous status. Currently, Pakistan is not in contact with India. “Talking to India would be a betrayal of Kashmiri people’s trust, who have suffered so much, and who live in an open-air prison environment with 800,000 troops deployed in the region,” he said.

Imran Khan said India’s unilateral decision of August 5, 2019 was in violation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 47. “It is possible to build a relationship with India, but this requires the restoration of Kashmir’s autonomy. They have violated international law with this abrogation,” he added.

The prime minister said the attitude of BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government and the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh - a right-wing Hindu fundamentalist group) towards Pakistan and Kashmir was worrisome “that had led to a dead end”.

“We are dealing with a government that is not rational, whose ideology is based on hatred of religious minorities and Pakistan. We can’t talk to them. We are at a dead end,” he added. He said Kashmir remained a disputed area between Pakistan and India since 1947, and it was natural to raise voice in defence of Kashmiris, as one third of the territory was in Pakistan.

“Kashmir is directly a matter of concern for Pakistan,” he added. On Afghanistan, the prime minister said Pakistan wanted recognition of Taliban government as a “collective process”.

He said if Pakistan were the first to grant recognition to Taliban, the international pressure would become “too much for us as we try to turn our economy around”.

“To be isolated by becoming the only state (to recognise the Taliban regime) would be the last thing we would want,” he added.

Imran Khan said the Afghans were a proud people, who could not be forced to act in a certain way. “You can’t force them. There is a limit to what foreign pressure can do to a government like the Taliban,” he added.

“Afghans should not be expected to respect women’s rights as Westerners understand them.” However, he said, the Taliban agreed on girls’ education but needed time.

He expressed concern over the worsening humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and the possible reflux of refugees. He mentioned that before the fall of the former regime, three organisations were operating from Afghanistan, including the Pakistani Taliban, the Baloch terrorists, and the Islamic State group.

“We believe that the more stable the Afghan government is, the less these groups can operate. That is why we are so concerned about the stability of Afghanistan,” he said.

Asked if Pakistan trusted the Afghan Taliban when they say they will not let jihadists strike from their territory, he said, “Yes, the Taliban were able to restore security when they took over in the 1990s.

“It is in their interest that regional trade develops from Central Asia through their territory to the Indian Ocean.”

He emphasised that if terrorists operated from the Afghan soil, the Taliban would suffer. "It is in their interest to stop international terrorism," he added.

“If Pakistan would be willing to participate in US President Joe Biden’s counter-terrorism strategy of striking jihadists in Afghanistan from bases in the region”, he said, "We do not want international terrorism to operate from Afghanistan, but this can only be done with the help of the Taliban government.”

He mentioned that Pakistan had already lost 80,000 lives in the war against terrorism after 2001, and did not want a conflict with the Afghan government. "We will be partners with the US in peace, not in war," he said.