Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said the true VIPs of Pakistan were those people who pay the most tax and such citizens should be facilitated and honoured.
Addressing a tax awards ceremony in Islamabad, the premier said there was a need to change the mindset under which wealth creation was considered a “sin”, so that people could be encouraged to invest in Pakistan.
For people who don’t pay their taxes, the prime minister said they should keep in mind that the country’s economic situation would worsen “if we don’t change our mindset”.
He said Pakistan simply could not prosper with just 1.7 million people filing taxes in a country of 210 million.
As a result of this disparity, Khan said, the government is forced to impose indirect taxes on the common people who often cannot bear this burden.
He said it was “unfair” that the prime minister was having to pay the same tax on things like petrol and diesel as a daily-wage labourer.
He noted that only 72,000 people from across the country declare an income of over Rs200,000, but added that it was “understandable” if people shied away from paying taxes because of their concern that their money would not be fully utilised for the uplift of the lower segments of society.
The premier regretted that Pakistan had not adopted the modern concepts from the state of Madina, the most important element of which he said was the collection of Zakat from the affluent which was then spent on the welfare of the masses.
“It is my mission … to tax those people in Pakistan whose [luxurious] lifestyles do not match with the amounts of taxes they pay,” Prime Minister Khan said, stressing that he does not believe in raising the tax rate but prefers widening the tax net.
The premier said his government had adopted austerity measures itself first, with all ministeries directed to cut their expenditures by 10 per cent.
“I have reduced expenditures of Prime Minister House by 30pc … saving Rs150m so far,” he stated.