Tuesday Jun 25 2019
Web Desk

Top 10 Q&A from PM Imran, finance team’s responses on Geo News special transmission

Web Desk

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan made history when he, along with his team members on economy, addressed the questions of public and businessmen on a Geo News special live transmission on Monday.

The two-hour long transmission with host Hamid Mir revolved around the issue of the government's asset declaration scheme, in which the prime minister and his team directly responded to the questions from the public.

Below are the top 10 questions and their responses from the prime minister and his finance team. 

Q. HAMID MIR: The basic issue regarding the scheme is about lack of faith in people about declaring their assets. They ask if there will be any guarantee of officials not taking action against them upon declaration?

PM IMRAN KHAN: I want to say that there is a word in English called ‘crossroads’ which means that you are either on the route you cannot go forward on or are on a path to destruction, or you can change and establish yourself. Such a time comes for nations. Our issue is that we pay lowest amount of tax in the world. Another issue is that the loans we have taken in ten years, half of our collected taxes go into paying interest on those loans and the amount left is not enough to run the country.

We have only two options, one that we need to change our mindset, for a civilized society we all need to contribute as in give taxes otherwise we will keep on getting entangled further in the web of taxes.

The bigger nations faced destruction due to this reason, where we are standing today we need to change ourselves to make Pakistan a country it can become as seen in the era of 60s.

Another question is how did we come to this point? We came to this point due to corruption, secondly, we don’t give taxes.

Just because there is a lot of corruption people think their money will not be spent on them and they also think that their money will be embezzled.

“Today I want to tell our nation that Insha’Allah your tax money will be spent on you. We are reducing our expenses, never has a government reduced its expenses as we have. We reduced PM House expenses by 30 to 35 per cent.”

Our ministers have reduced salaries by 10 percent. In view of this, Pakistan Army reduced its expenses, meaning they have not taken the additional amount on the basis of increase in inflation.

Regarding the trust issue you asked that people think once they come into tax net the institutions and FBR will nag them. There are two things; one, I have asked my team to make a new helpline that no one can tease anyone. Secondly, there is my own portal at PM House, where we will establish a special section, where people can call me and we won’t let any institution hound them.

Q. HAMID MIR: Several people are not registered with FBR, they don’t even have a tax number, can they benefit from this scheme?

SHABBAR ZAIDI: Yes, they can benefit, there is no hurdle in that, when someone declares assets in Pakistan they have to become a filer then.

Q. HAMID MIR: My question is for Hafeez Sheikh, in Punjab and other provinces the documentation of people from Balochistan is not accepted so can you please give them some assurance?

HAFEEZ SHEIKH: I will say two things, number one is that the people in Balochistan should be given their due share through resources and in development programmes as well, proportionately. 

Q. Hamid Mir: Before bringing in Shabbar Zaidi you had said FBR had a responsibility and if the FBR did not do its job you will bring reforms in it. What are those reforms regarding FBR, especially the one regarding the East Declaration Scheme that it should be simplified along with the filing of tax returns? What instructions have you given regarding this?

PM Imran: The details of this will be given by Shabbar Zaidi, but as I have said before if we don’t collect money we cannot run the country.

To bring reforms in the FBR we will use technology, which will be used  between the tax payers and government.

Moreover, I would like to inform, that I have spoken with Shabbar Zaidi and we have decided to bring reforms on all levels. However, where we cannot bring changes or reforms we will try to create a parallel system. We do not have any other way to go besides this. If we don’t then our loans will continue to increase.

Q. Hamid Mir: Hammad Azhar said more than 1lakh accounts have been found out to be NFR accounts and you happen to have information regarding a lot of these offshore accounts like these. Does government have resources to deal with the people who don't take advantage from this scheme after June 30?

PM Imran: As I have said before the country can only run when the nation and government come together. I have seen this country through the tough times it has been. I saw how the Pakistanis living here and overseas pulled the country out of this difficult time.

I want everyone to take advantage of the scheme. I have received a number of messages saying that they did not have the time and that the date should be extended. For this, they should register themselves now and say they will pay later in instalments. We will try to make this as easy as possible for everyone.

Q. Hamid Mir: So what you are saying is that the date will not be extended beyond June 30 for the Asset Declaration Scheme?

PM Imran: We cannot extend the date beyond June 30, because if we do, people will think they will get another scheme and another one after that.

You spoke about the information we have. Today we have information that no other government had. This is because other countries are providing us with this information after we signed MoUs with them.

Money laundering means that if someone has money abroad and they cannot tell us the source of income or whether they acquired the money through legal means, this will come under the net of money laundering.

We have rules now that means that countries can give us information regarding this and we can work on bringing that money back to Pakistan.

The other thing is “benami”. Never before there were rules in Pakistan regarding benami accounts. Now we have laws regarding benami accounts, which means that no one can open accounts under their domestic helper’s name and if they cannot answer how they came about the money then we can confiscate the property and the money. They will be punished and their property will be seized by the government.

Q. HAMID MIR: You (PM) mean to say that good times are coming and people shouldn’t panic?

PM IMRAN KHAN: Good times will come in this country Insha’Allah and this is the only country made on the name of Islam and we are deviating from our ideals and the ideals of the state of Madina will be brought back.

Q. HAMID MIR: Arshad Sahab from Peshawar’s Sarhad chamber will pose a question: We want to ask if the MNAs will sacrifice for public and surrender 100 percent of their salary so that it can have a good impact on the budget?

PM IMRAN KHAN: I will only say that if you want those MNAs and MPAs to do their work properly then know that they are barely making both ends meet and we all have reduced our salaries by 10 percent.

Q. HAMID MIR: In media, news is rife that the permission has been granted to conduct raids?

REVENUE MINISTER HAMAD AZHAR: No, this isn’t the case, we will not breach the sanctity of the household, we will review and regulate it.

Q. It seems from the finance bill that you want to do something overnight and authority for raids has been granted and FBR officials explained about this and Hafeez Sheikh as well, but can you also give some explanation?

PM IMRAN: There are several things attempted this time which weren’t done earlier. We even asked business community how to alleviate their issues and how can they help the country. We have give-in at several places and made compromises too.

The entire live transmission and the questions and answers can be watched here and here.