ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Thursday said that the tax regime for affluent sections of the society was being revised and a genuine tax would be imposed on total income of such persons for the first time in the country’s history.
Addressing the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) senators here, he said the tax collected from the affluent would be spent for welfare of working and poor classes of society, who were the real builders of Pakistan and who had always sacrificed for the country. He termed it a political and religious obligation of the rich to accommodate the deserving people and contribute for prosperity of the nation.
Claiming that the PTI government had no sympathy for the poor and widows, he said to reduce the burden on the poor, Rs2,000 per month relief had been announced for them. However, he warned that the country could face more difficult times ahead due to the inherited inefficiency of the last regime, promising that the coalition government would brave every challenge.
Shehbaz said the government was committed to bringing the country out of the difficult situation and vowed to take daring steps and prioritise the steps for the nation’s prosperity and development. He said that they preferred the state’s interest over their politics, adding that they believed in Riasat more than in Siasat. “If the state survives, so will our politics,” he added.
Shehbaz said a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had been reached, though its fruits in the form of development would start benefiting the country after some time. “The terms for a deal with the IMF has been finalised and [the agreed upon amount will be transferred to Pakistan] if no new condition is put forward by the Fund,” the PM clarified.
Shehbaz said the coalition government was unanimous and focused on the fact that it would complete its constitutional term and the next 14 months would be used for reformation and improvement of the country. “Some of my colleagues suggested carrying out electoral reforms immediately and announcing early elections, but the coalition government will complete its constitutional tenure,” Shehbaz added.
He pointed out that the PTI government had struck a deal with the IMF to pass on the hike in fuel prices to consumers, and it had accepted imposing Rs30 petrol levy, along with 17 per cent sales tax. However, he said the deal was not implemented by the PTI government, which caused displeasure of the world lending agency and the country lost trust in the world community. The previous government suddenly reduced the prices in March after it sensed a defeat in no-confidence move, at a time when the petrol prices had skyrocketed globally, added the premier.
Shehbaz said that during the last 73 years of the country’s history, all governments, including civil and military, failed to materialise the dream of establishment of a welfare state.
The PM said China, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar always supported Pakistan in difficult times and sided with it at the diplomatic fronts as well. He said the recent $2.3 billion loan from China was a respite in the current difficult times. “China and Saudi Arabia must also be wondering that for how long they would continue to support Pakistan,” he added.
Shehbaz said the PTI government, with its negative approach, damaged relations with the friendly countries, including China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. However, he added, the incumbent government was taking steps to mend the relations for the benefit of the nation.
The PM regretted that the PTI government also said they did not need support of Saudi Arabia on the Kashmir issue. He said in the next few days, he would address the nation to take them on board on steps taken by the government to improve the economic situation.
The PM regretted that several welfare projects launched by PM Nawaz Sharif were stopped by the PTI government. He said that the laptop scheme was termed a political bribe, but the same proved to be a source of online connectivity for students during Covid-19 pandemic. He said the PTI government was also behind many scandals like gas, wheat and sugar theft. “They gave billions of rupees subsidies and cartels made money,” he added.
Separately, a delegation of K-Electric, led by Sheikh Abdulaziz Hamad Aljomaih, called on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday. The PM was apprised of the K-Electric’s longstanding resolvable issues related to the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra).
The prime minister ordered for constituting a committee of the relevant officials, led by MNA Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, to find a solution to the issues acceptable to all parties, within the next three months.
The meeting was attended by MNA Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, Adviser to the PM Ahad Cheema, Minister of State for Petroleum Dr Musadik Malik, Minister of State for Finance Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha and senior officials concerned.
Also, PM Shehbaz Sharif held a telephonic conversation with the acting prime minister of the interim Afghan government, Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund on Thursday. He offered prayers for the departed souls and wished speedy recovery for the injured in the earthquake. The PM affirmed that Pakistan stood shoulder-to-shoulder with its Afghan brethren in this difficult hour.
The PM also shared details regarding the relief efforts mounted by Pakistan to provide emergency assistance to Afghanistan, including the dispatch of emergency medicines, tents, tarpaulins and blankets. He conveyed that Ghulam Khan and Angoor Adda border crossing points have been opened for transportation of the seriously-injured Afghans for their treatment in the Pakistani hospitals. He reassured Pakistan’s continued assistance in the coming days as well. The PM underscored the close fraternal relations between the two peoples and reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to assist the Afghan people facing a dire humanitarian situation.
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