This refers to a recent report ‘Representation without Taxation’ about the tax evasion by key lawmakers, including the members of the federal cabinet. According to the data, 34 ministers out of 54 paid no tax at all in 2011. Such revelations are no surprise in a country where tax evasion is pervasive and, in fact, has become a norm. It is interesting to point out that a country cannot improve its earning from taxes when its lawmakers are reluctant to file their tax returns. Perhaps this is the reason that Pakistan has a very low tax-to-GDP ratio which has been stagnant at around nine percent for a decade. On the other hand, there are countries economically less-developed but with a far better tax record. Ethiopia is such an example which has an over 10 per cent tax-to-GDP ratio.

Needless to say that the state could not persuade the rich individuals to pay their taxes if the parliamentarians are tax evaders themselves. The problem starts at the top. In Pakistan, those who make revenue policies run the government and collect taxes have not been able to set a good example for others. The tax system in our country is a flawed one which favors the elite at the expense of the poor. Thus reforms in the system are badly needed.


Lahore, December 13.