Monday July 04, 2022

People are talking about —

June 19, 2022

-- the tobacco control activists demand for increasing tax on cigarettes and the illicit cigarette market in the country. People say taxing tobacco may well be an effective strategy to discourage the use of tobacco but it will not solve the issue of smoking as long as effective measures are not taken to stop the illicit manufacturing of cigarettes which somehow the authorities have not been able to do, probably because of the powerful lobby involved in the business.

-- how the culture of sycophancy, mutual admiration and publicity is deeply rooted in our society at all levels of influence, especially that of political entities. People say it is sickening to see a federal minister surrounded by at least a dozen bureaucrats and several dozen sycophants plant one tree and be hailed as a champion of environmental causes, while the poor forest guard who toils tirelessly to plant and sustain hundreds of saplings every month is given no recognition at all.

-- the ‘appeal’ made by a federal minister that everyone should cut down on their tea drinking so import of leaves can be decreased. People say this would have gone down well with the public if the government had set an example by cutting down on unnecessary expenditure like perks and privileges, because tea is something many poor people survive on – even little children - when there is no food to eat – it helps to swallow a bite of dry roti.

-- the acute water shortage in many parts of the country and how Manchhar, the largest freshwater lake of the country, is an existing source that could reduce water scarcity to some extent but unfortunately it’s been poisoned and polluted owing to sustained apathy on the part of the authorities. People say about 40,000 fishermen have migrated to urban areas and all the authorities do is to complain about lack of funds and fight over whether it is a federal or provincial responsibility.

-- about the disturbing scenes witnessed in a Karachi constituency during the recent by-poll which may also be a harbinger of things to come when general elections take place, unless the administration and political parties commit to ensuring a violence-free electoral exercise. People say one showdown was particularly scary, as rival parties traded fire, terrorizing citizens, so this episode raises concerns about the ECP’s and the administration’s ability to conduct polls peacefully and may deter many persons from coming out to vote.

-- the budget and how tough measures have been imposed upon the salaried class while retailers will pay income tax ranging from Rs3,000 to Rs10,000 per month though they should pay on their actual incomes. People say judging by the flights going to tourist destinations, they are full of persons who are exempted from taxes or skilfully avoid paying income tax. Will this injustice ever end or are the poor and middle-class people condemned to bear the greater part of the tax burden forever?

-- the surprising fact that another high rise apartment building is being erected on Constitution Avenue when the first one that had been built there had caused a lot of controversy and a court case which the owners won even though high rise buildings in this area are not part of the original plan. People say unfortunately the rich and powerful get away with such infringements of building laws, while less privileged persons dare not even think of similar infractions. – I.H.