Taxes for the rich, relief for the poor.

Byline: Arif Majeed-Karachi

THIS is with reference to the report 'Tarin previews budget: No new taxes, but system to be rationalised' (May 31). Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin announced that there would be no new taxes in the upcoming budget. The decision puzzles one as, at the same time, an increase of 40 per cent is envisaged in Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) spending.

It is not disclosed how the resources will be mobilised for higher development spending. One can only insinuate that the finance minister may consider resorting to massive external and domestic borrowing to cover the gap. Pakistan is already caught up in a debt trap that can further worsen.

Health officials and people at large have been urging the government for the last two years to levy more taxes on sugary drinks and cigarettes. In this connection, voice from inside the government is now being heard as well.

Independent economists also demand additional taxes on luxury goods that are consumed by the affluent class to raise revenues. Further, a complete ban is suggested on import of luxury and unnecessary items to cut the import bill and curb dollar borrowings being spent on such frivolous imports.

The bottom line is: rich must be taxed more to subsidise the unprivileged segments of the population rather...

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