We should be thankful to Russia for taking a bold stand to protect its security needs, for which it took retaliation in the form of western sanctions, including a steep fall in oil prices. But poor countries like Pakistan have not been allowed to reap any benefit from this cut in oil price as IMF has not only banned any concession, in our electricity price, but has also ordered our government to increase taxes, to cancel any benefits accruing from falling oil prices. Our government has thus decided to abolish all income tax concessions and to escalate its rates leaving no disposable income in the hands of the people, a sure recipe for poverty generation.
It may be pointed out, that everything in our country is already taxed to the teeth, right from our table salt to our shoes, but most of this tax somehow finds its way into the private pockets of the bureaucracy. That is the reason the amount of actual tax collected is only a fraction of the staggering amount extorted from the public. Unfortunately, our taxes can only be received in rupees, our legal currency, and not in foreign exchange. The previous government had printed rupees to the tune of billions and yet no hyperinflation was recorded. This is because agricultural production makes up for our domestic economic shortfall.
What we need is dollars and severe taxation hits our economic productivity very badly resulting in continued escalation of our current account deficit. I should say, though in a lighter vain, that had we been allowed to print dollars we would have had no need to impose any tax at all. But the IMF, which is decidedly used as an international politico-economic tool, to hold down our economy and to punish our people for demanding independent policies, is breathing heavily down our neck. While Russia, receiving drubbing by other means, will most likely break free from the western clutches, we see no light at the end of the tunnel and therefore must endure our miserable destiny in the death grip of the IMF.
MUHAMMAD AKRAM,
Muzaffargarh, December 24.