Saturday Apr 07, 2018
ISLAMABAD: The amnesty scheme released on Thursday alongside a tax reforms package was garnering a better-than-expected positive response, Pakistani prime minister's financial adviser said the following day.
Miftah Ismail, the federal adviser on finance, revenue, and economic affairs, expressed shock at baseless criticism of the scheme, mainly coming from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, who, himself, has benefitted from it in the past.
"It is surprising to see Imran Khan, who himself has profited through this amnesty scheme in the past, decrying it now," Ismail said during an interview with journalist Syed Talat Hussain on Geo News' programme Naya Pakistan.
"We also wish to expand the tax net [in Pakistan]," the premier's financial adviser told Hussain, reiterating Abbasi's comment that citizens with unreported income and assets would be able to "bring their money into the tax base after paying a five per cent one-off penalty".
Ismail, a businessman turned politician, went on to say that the incumbent leadership plans to provide a list, before May 30, of those two million people who are eligible to pay taxes.
Earlier, on Thursday, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had announced a reduction in the income tax rates as well as an amnesty scheme aimed to broaden the government's revenue base.
He had, however, warned that a non-payment of taxes would mean Pakistan would "not be sustainable" and that those engaged in doing so "will have to face the law".
The prime minister had noted that all 120 million national identity card (CNIC) holders will be assigned tax numbers, allowing "some two-and-a-half-month time to benefit from — after which [the non-payers] will have to face the law".
Consequently, Khan, the PTI head, rejected the tax amnesty scheme, saying Abbasi had punished tax-payers for their honesty and provided a chance to corrupt individuals to "turn their black money white."
Khan also questioned the need for rolling out the scheme when the prime minister had only seven weeks left before his government's tenure ends.
Khan lamented: "Those who pay taxes were punished, instead of being given a tribute. […] You punished honesty and gave corrupt masses a chance to turn black money white."