The result of recent by-elections should be wakeup call for PM Imran Khan and PTI. Agreed, that Pakistan faces a very challenging and daunting economic crisis with falling forex reserves and debt payments, alongwith meeting expectations of people, who expect relief and a visible change in priorities.

The Mini budget should have reflected policies for widening tax net, instead of initially announced relief for non-filers, only to withdraw them later. Concrete measures must be taken to tax real estate business by assessment on prevailing market rates, if economy is to be documented. There was no announcement to regulate outflow of foreign exchange through banking channels by making changes in 1992 Economic Reforms Policy and other irregular known modes. The State priority should be to levy direct taxes on all sources of income otherwise this viscous debt crisis cannot be controlled. While the poor are denied basic health, education and clean drinking water, the vast majority of paid public office holders including uniformed services continue to lead opulent lifestyle, and are beneficiaries of subsidized allotment of multiple real estate plots for commercial resale etc.

Instead of increasing agriculture belts to feed unchecked expanding population, existing inadequate agriculture land and forests are disappearing, become a casualty to insatiable greed of few. PTI must understand that indirect taxes are a burden on poor and middle class, including those who pay direct taxes, and amounts to giving subsidy to affluent tax evaders. PTI policies must reflect the change that they promised while ensuring that it does not outsource to foreign nationals basic ventures like construction of houses, waste management etc, because they would repatriate their earnings to foreign countries where they are based and also be eligible for tax rebates.

MALIK TARIQ ALI,

Lahore, October 15.