KARACHI -  Speakers at the Shura Hamdard meeting on Friday urged the government to take drastic measures to eradicate corruption from the country.

They said that eradication of corruption from the country would help contain the budget deficit and reduce burden of foreign loans on the nation.

The meeting was held on the theme: “National Budget 2017-18: Setting Priorities” and it was presided over by Justice (r) Haziqul Khairi.

Speaking on the occasion, Sadia Rashid, president of the Hamdard Foundation Pakistan, said the issue of population control was being taken for granted and necessary attention was not being paid to this burning issue.

She said that Bangladesh, which had less resources than Pakistan, had already controlled the population.

Sultan Chawla, former president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), said that there was no scarcity of resources in the country. He said that Pakistan was number two in production of salt, four in production of milk and cotton and 11 in production of rice in the world. “Even then our government’s income is low. Tax evasion, flawed system of tax collection, burgeoning rate of indirect taxes are the major issues facing the country. People of different monthly incomes ranging from Rs25,000 to Rs500,000 per month are paying both direct and indirect taxes. The collection of agricultural income tax is negligible,” he said.

Zafar Iqbal, president of the Small and Medium Enterprises Alliance (SAMEA), said that 17 to 22 percent of general sales tax (GST) could not be justified in a poor country like Pakistan. This GST rate should be reduced to 3 to 4 percent and agricultural income should be brought into the tax net to boost the income of the country. The withholding tax on registered taxpayers on drawing cash from banks should be abolished, he added. He further said that small and medium enterprises were the backbone and economic engine of every country, so it is imperative that incentives for their promotion and development are included in the upcoming national budget. He said that 96 percent of small and medium enterprises had engaged 80 percent of labour force of the country and contributed 40 percent to the GDP.

Shamim Kazami, Huma Baig , Khalid Ikramullah Khan and Mohammed Usman Damohi also spoke o the occasion.