According to reports in a section of press, concerted action is being planned against all those textile mill owners who have been evading their taxes. The decision came about in the wake of the investigations and assessment of tax returns by the FBR, which to its shock found that tax theft worth many billions of rupees was going on.

The criminal bent of those involved in this scam can be seen from the fact that some of the textile mills went to the extent of covering up their theft by illegally benefiting from the tax amnesty scheme. For one thing, this is a damning indictment of the amnesty hoax that has been unanimously decried by economists as a means to allow the big fishes to whiten their black money. Although, this is not the first time that such a revelation has been made followed up by a resolve to take the correctional measures, the FBR should now make a practical demonstration showing it has what it takes to be an incorruptible organisation and can make the culprits pay their dues by whatever means it takes. It goes without saying that the tax authorities are invariably up against powerful members of the elite who hold sway over a large part of our officialdom. But since the law empowers the officials to do their job without fear or favour, they should rise to the occasion. The action against the errant mills should not be stymied through political meddling with the bureau’s affairs a norm that comes into play almost at every instance when some mega scam is unearthed. This is just one segment of the industrial sector that has been partaking of this free for all but it is high time they were all cornered one by one. It is theft and pilferage of the sort that has bled the national kitty dry, weakened the economy and ultimately has shifted the burden on the middle-class’ shoulders.

Having said that, the entire culture of taxation has to be changed; who knows the move to nab the textile mills could turn out to be a success holding out a warning for other defaulters to mend their ways. Pakistan appears a rich country when seen with its enormously large ‘black economy’ that has yet to be accounted for but which thrives while making a dent in the national exchequer great enough for us to resort to foreign aid and loans. Some room for optimism given the growing levels of commitment within the FBR makes its presence felt. It has been striving to shrug off its image as just another inept institution attainment of which requires a prolonged effort.