And now Bahamas Leaks

AS the upheaval caused by Panama-gate is still rocking politics of the country, another cache of leaked documents has revealed tax heaven of elite, carrying names of 150 Pakistanis who own 69 companies in the Bahamas, a constellation of over 700 islands. The latest disclosure has prompted Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to issue directions to SBP, SECP and FBR to probe the matter in an impartial manner.
While questions might be asked as to why the authorities sit idle over idea of local investigations after Panama Leaks, one must appreciate the Finance Minister for ordering probe and serving tax notices on Pakistanis mentioned in Bahamas Leaks. However, Panama and Bahamas Leaks are not an end but just symptoms of a much bigger malaise that afflicts our financial and economic system, loopholes of which allow many Pakistanis to evade tax and take both legitimate and ill-gotten money abroad for investment in offshore companies. As repeatedly pointed out by many experts, investment in offshore companies itself is no crime but the way the amount involved is amassed and transferred abroad. Tax evasion is, however, a big issue and raises questions of about legal and moral aspects of the disdainful practice. Similarly, it is commonly alleged that most of the money invested in offshore companies is received by the individuals concerned through corrupt practices and therefore, requires investigation about their sources of income. A recent report indicated steep fall in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Pakistan and one is justified to ask question who will invest in the country when our own nationals are stashing money abroad. Similarly, revelation of names of more Pakistanis in Bahamas Leaks substantiates the view point that it would be wrong to focus only on Panama Leaks. There is, therefore, need for a comprehensive law and an all powerful entity to investigate all those involved in corruption and illegal transfer of money abroad. There are numerous elements, known to agencies and departments concerned, who amass wealth through corruption and get it converted into foreign exchange on daily basis.

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