Philanthropy in Pakistan

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GIVEN our low tax to GDP ratio we are not reckoned as good taxpayers, yet when it comes to helping downtrodden or ailing humanity, our people are ranked amongst the most generous in world. According to a study released by Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy, the individual philanthropy stood at about Rs 240b in 2015. Though by all means this is a whopping amount that people gave to less fortunate people but as also admitted by the NGO, this data is incomplete as it does not entail all the high dole outs including those given by the corporate sector.
If a comprehensive drive is launched to collect the data vis-à-vis philanthropy, the amount of Rs 240b will multiply several times. We believe this will be a difficult task as our people do charitable work quietly rather for a show off. Due to lack of trust, people though donate to some trusted philanthropic organisations such as Shaukat Khanum and Edhi Foundation but mostly they prefer giving directly to the poor. Nobody can deny the efficacy of these donations that go directly in the hands of individuals but we believe this only provides temporary relief to deserving families. In our view, if at least fifty percent of these donations are pooled together and channelled through a proper mechanism, these can have far wider impact to change the whole socio-economic scenario. There should be a mechanism involving both public and private sectors that also help the haves-not to stand on their own feet. This can be done by imparting them training in some market-oriented trade or helping the deserving families start their own business. At the same time, high ratio of philanthropy also indicates that the country can also achieve the same index in tax collection if the government takes requisite steps towards building the trust of people on state institutions. Increase in tax collection, we believe, will provide more cushion to government to further expand social safety net and improve socio-economic indicators to pull the poor lot out of abject poverty.