News / Asia

Report: Half of Pakistani MPs Do Not Pay Taxes

FILE - A lawmaker (C) of Pakistan's Sindh province assembly casts his vote for the presidential election in Karachi, Sept. 6, 2008.
FILE - A lawmaker (C) of Pakistan's Sindh province assembly casts his vote for the presidential election in Karachi, Sept. 6, 2008.
Reuters
Nearly half Pakistan's lawmakers do not pay taxes, according to a study released on Monday, findings that may endanger the billions of dollars in IMF and other loans and aid shoring up a faltering economy.

Cracking down on rampant tax evasion is a main condition of a $6.7 billion International Monetary Fund program aimed at stabilizing the nuclear-armed U.S. ally of 180 million people.

Big donors like Britain, which has committed more than $1 billion to Pakistani education, are considering slashing aid unless more rich Pakistanis pay tax.

The report, which identifies some ministers among the legislators who pay no tax, was drawn up by the Center for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan, an independent research group.

The group based its report on documents from the Election Commission. The Election Commission publishes financial declarations from political candidates and their statements from the tax authority.

Tariq Azeem, a spokesman for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's ruling party, said the tax authorities and the Election Commission used different forms to gather tax data. He said that may explain the discrepancies.

Asked why some legislators appeared never to have paid taxes, Azeem said “I don't know.”

Spokesmen for other political parties said they had not read the report and could not comment. None of the politicians identified in the report as having paid no taxes was available for comment.

Pakistan's public schools and hospitals are starved of revenue while frustration over poor public services frequently sparks riots and militant groups capitalize on anger to build support.

Pakistan has a nine percent tax to gross domestic product ratio, one of the world's lowest. Fewer than one percent of citizens file income taxes.

“If politicians don't pay taxes themselves, they have lost the moral authority to impose taxes on others,” said Umar Cheema, the author of the report.

"Serious action"

The Finance Ministry said December tax collection was up by about a quarter compared with last year. Cheema said nearly 80 percent of that was through indirect taxes on items like fuel.

“Whenever there is pressure from the donor agencies, they just increase indirect taxes which shifts the burden on the poor and lets the rich off again,” Cheema said.

Nearly half all national and provincial legislators don't pay taxes, Cheema said in his report. More than one in 10 legislators had never registered with tax authorities.

Of those who paid, a third had discrepancies between income and tax declarations and data provided by tax authorities. Many legislators reported paying minuscule amounts of tax.

There was even a discrepancy in the record of Prime Minister Sharif, according to the report.

Sharif, who came to power in a May election, declared he paid $26,000 in income tax last year although the Federal Board of Revenue said he paid $22,000. The prime minister's office was not immediately available for comment.

“We expect everyone to be honest and forthcoming, that goes without saying, but there is no such thing that they have to verify with [party] headquarters. It is an individual's own business,” said Azeem, the party spokesman.

“If we find anyone has knowingly misled income tax authorities, we will take serious action.” Asked what action, Azeem said “It depends.”

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
December 25, 2013 3:40 AM
All donor assistance to Pakistan should be suspended on this basis alone.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid