Shahzada Ahsan Ashraf
“For far too long I have heard the mantra about increasing tax collection.Don’t give up:Let them cry. For far too long, I have heard people cry about broadening tax net. For far too long I have heard people cry about ensuring equitable tax payments across all segments.
Entire slogan of PTI was on change, was on being lawful, was on paying tax instead of avoiding tax, was on being lawful instead of being lawless.
Now the rubber has hit the road. In this country only around 46000 active businesses are registered, possibly out of millions. Such is the level of our undocumented economy.
Government has levied taxes on those who happily avoided taxes. Under the garb of federation and trade bodies who smuggle, are happy to bribe the inspector but remained steadfast not to pay taxes.
Paying the due share to this land remained a cardinal sin for them. Majority of Abdullah Haroon Road business in Karachi or Hafeez Center in Lahore is of smuggled goods. They get projected by chamber, trade bodies and FBR inspector – all part of crime.
Now government wants all of them to pay tax. Noise level is deafening. I am loving this noise level and want them to pay taxes as for far too long they have been a VIP despite being lawless.
I want them to cry foul, I want them to shout that we will not recognise CNIC as way of documentation, I want them to shout that our businesses will shut down, I want them to paint a bleak picture and of doom and gloom. Yes it is doom and gloom for them. Yes it is painful for them, for they don’t know the value and joy of being ethical and lawful. Let them cry as for once I want the lawful to smile and lawless to cry. It has been other way round till now. A great attempt, a tough attempt, a brave attempt, a brilliant attempt is being made to fix this.
I wish government God speed. Don’t give up.It does not matter how painful the journey of moving towards respecting law could be, how vociferous the noise may get, but a journey of correction we all must undertake for our future generation, for this country. Loving every bit of it.
The writer is former federal minister and Chairman PIA