No more taxes !

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PRIME Minister Imran Khan on Thursday addressing maiden meeting of the newly constituted Economic Advisory Council (EAC) directed that instead of imposing more taxes on people, ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions should be proposed to provide relief to the masses.

He called for a road-map envisaging short, medium and long-term measures to further organise important sectors of the economy including energy, construction, agriculture, tourism, social protection, subsidies, Small and Medium Enterprises, remittances and public-private partnership besides bringing stability to prices.

Similar views were also expressed by new Finance Minister Shaukat Tareen before and after assumption of his office and hopefully platform of the Council, which includes prominent economists, would be used to realise objective of lowering tax burden and provision of much-needed relief to the people.

We have all along been emphasising in these columns that, financial squeeze of government notwithstanding, there is a limit to absorption capacity of the people in the face of increasing burden of taxes and unending upward revision of prices of POL products and electricity/gas tariffs.

There is no confirmation as yet that this policy has produced any worthwhile result in terms of revenue generation and financial stability of government but there are clear indications that it has pushed more people below the poverty line.

Therefore, a shift in thinking of top leadership is encouraging and it is now for experts to propose a strategy that help realise objective of strengthening revenue generation without putting more burden of taxes on those who are already contributing their due share to the national kitty.

Relief and incentives for different segments of the society would surely accelerate pace of economic activities in the country and as a result authorities will have a chance to collect more taxes.

The Finance Minister has an active plan to hold a series of meetings with representatives of the business community ahead of the next budget and such an exercise can become meaningful if all reasonable proposals are incorporated in the coming budget.

Steps should also be taken to fulfil the oft-repeated government commitment to simplify the tax system that still remains cumbersome despite tall claims made in the past.

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