Pakistan’s traders, retailers, and wholesale business owners are defying state and writ of law by refusing to register with Income Tax and FBR. Over the years, failure by every elected and military government to collect taxes has nurtured a culture where sections of business community and feudal landlords now consider it their right not to pay any tax, yet continue to demand services from state and compensation when natural or man-made disasters inflict damage to their properties. The meager tax collected from traders in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Faisalabad’s posh retail centres is not even enough to cater for vast infrastructure which has been built in their vicinity. It is ironic that these traders are willing to pay billions as Bhatta to extortion collectors, but are defiant in their refusal to pay obligatory taxes due from them, and even pilfer sales tax collected from citizens. Some of these leading retailers are billionaires, living in palatial houses, driving expensive vehicles and owning farm houses spread over acres, but the annual direct income tax paid by them is less than a salaried professional living in a small house or apartment who cannot afford even buying a brand new Suzuki Alto car.
It is this callous and criminal neglect of ruling elite, who by their failure to perform constitutional duties of enforcing laws and collecting taxes, have over the years given birth to an environment where criminals, target killers, smugglers, kidnappers, and land grabbers have emerged as powerful group defying the state and holding it to ransom such as this call for protests if they are made to either register or pay a nominal indirect tax on bank transactions of those amongst them who are not registered with FBR. Over the years, successive governments by succumbing to these defiant non-tax payers have created a situation where TAX to GDP ratio has reduced to such a dismal low level that state sovereignty is being compromised by submitting to dictates of donor agencies. This financial terrorism is as grave as criminal terrorism and the state must not succumb to their blackmail.
ALI MALIK,
Dubai, August 1.