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 GEO Pakistan

 PM, his 25 ministers do not pay taxes

 Updated at: 1125 PST,  Monday, September 27, 2010
PM, his 25 ministers do not pay taxes ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and his 25 ministers, in sworn affidavits submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan at the time of their elections, have admitted that they don’t pay income taxes and most shockingly, Finance Minister Hafiz Sheikh and his deputy Hina Rabbani Khar, are among them.

These details were released officially by the ECP to this correspondent after a two-month wait. An application addressed to the chief election commissioner, requesting for tax return details of all MNAs, senators and MPAs was made and remained in process for two months. Finally, tax payment details of the MNAs and senators were provided officially while details of the MPAs are still awaited.

The prime minister has a jumbo-size cabinet of 61 members: 43 federal ministers and 18 state ministers. Approximate average expenditure on one minister in one day is Rs100,000 according to a renowned economist Dr Farrukh Saleem. It is, however, yet to be known how much the taxpayers pay for the prime minister per day. Dr Farrukh said that there is a budgetary allocation for PM’s foreign trip costing public exchequer three million rupees per day.

The prime minister and the ministers, belonging to the National Assembly, had provided the tax details of until 2008. The ministers picked from Senate submitted the details in the year they were elected. For example, finance minister Hafeez Sheikh submitted nomination papers in 2010 for Senate’s election after the seat was vacated by his predecessor, Shaukat Tareen.

Apart from 24 ministers not paying income tax, there is another list of four cabinet members who had their taxes deducted only from their salary as lawmakers in previous assembly, not from their private fortunes. They are: Water and Power Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, Social Welfare Minister Samina Khalid Ghurki, Culture Minister Pir Aftab Shah Jillani and State Minister for Communication Imtiaz Safdar Warraich.

There is another list of four ministers paying income tax below Rs10,000 and one of them — Minister for Human Rights Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani — paid just Rs1,203. Others deposited below Rs10,000 are Qamar Zaman Kaira (Rs7,999), Malik Ammad Awan (Rs8,064), and Rana Farooq Saeed (Rs2,280).

There are 13 ministers whose income tax amount falls between Rs10,000 and Rs50,000. Another couple of ministers has their tax amount between Rs50,000 and Rs100,000 with one of them is Law Minister Babar Awan, who is famous for charging high legal fees starting in millions. Only one cabinet member paid tax above Rs10 million and he is a low profile State Minister Masood Abbas (20,210,004), who was voted to the National Assembly on the ANP ticket. Second highest taxpayer in the cabinet is again a low-profile State Minister, Shagufta Jumani, who paid Rs24,232,00 in the financial year she was selected on reserve seat by PPP. Besides them, none of the ministers paid taxes above one million rupees.

Starting from Prime Minister Gilani, details he submitted for the election in 2008 disclose that Gilani didn’t pay tax for three consecutive years since the nomination papers sought information for only three previous years, it remains to be known when he paid tax the last time. He neither paid under the head of income tax nor agriculture tax, though he is one of the feudal lords ruling the country.

Likewise, Finance Minister Hafeez Sheikh and State Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Division, Hina Rabbani Khar, have not paid a single penny under the head of income tax, though they preach all the countrymen to pay taxes. Both stated in their nomination papers, they have just paid agriculture tax: Sheikh paid Rs9,630 and his deputy Hina Rabbani Rs7,500. Sheikh paid the fixed amount of Rs9,630 as agriculture tax for three years, neither more nor less. Hina deposited Rs7,500 in last financial year before contesting 2008 election and submitted Rs8,000 each time in two previous years. Hafiz Sheikh and Hina Rabbani both belong to landed elite and have been tasked to manage finance affairs.

The federal ministers who didn’t pay income taxes are Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Faheem, ex-Defence Production Minister Abdul Qayyum Jatoi, Food and Agriculture Minister Nazar Gondal, Health Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Minister for Kashmir Affairs Mian Manzoor Wattoo, Minister for Live Stock and Dairy Development Humayun Kurd, Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister for Postal Services Israrullah Zehri, Minister for Railways Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, Minister for Religious Affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi, Minister for Science and Technology Azam Swati (who stated in papers having no business inside Pakistan), Minister for Special Initiatives Lal Muhammad Khan, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Najmuddin Khan, Minister for Tourism Ataur Rehman, Minister for Youth Affairs Shahid Hussain Bhutto, and Minister for Zakat and Ushr Noorul Haq Qadri.

Of these non-income taxpayers, some of them managed to deposit agriculture tax that is easy to pay due to little amount. For example, Makhdoom Amin Faheem, known as Makhdoom of Hala, paid agriculture tax merely to the tune of Rs110,056 claiming to be an agriculturalist only; nevertheless, he has been given the charge of Commerce Ministry. Qayyum Jatoi, who famously said that corruption is right of everybody, paid Rs24,232, Nazar Gondal Rs18,608, Rehman Malik Rs64 and Azam Swati Rs2,406.

The non-income payers ministers of state (MoS) are MoS for Defence Arbab Muhammad Zahir, MoS for Education Ghulam Farid Kathia, MoS for Finance Hina Rabbani Khar, MoS for Housing And works Tariq Anis, MoS for Industries and Production Dr Ayatullah Durrani, and MoS for Information and Broadcasting Sumsam Bukhari.
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