Unfriendly budget

Sir: The first budget of the new government has come as a big shock. Those who thought the prime minister has learned from his past mistakes have been disillusioned. It is an inflationary budget, and has targeted those only who are already in the tax net. The salaried class has been particularly affected, while agriculturists have been left untouched. The finance minister said nothing about curbing or eliminating electricity and gas theft, or about rampant smuggling, under-invoicing and underquoting of imported goods done to avoid higher rates of duty. Eliminating such malpractices can result in trillions of rupees saving. But the government seems helpless before powerful people like smugglers, the ones to benefit the most from the increased rate of sales tax.

In fact, 75 percent of the collected sales tax is used to pay for refunds (most of which are a result of fraudulent claims). A study recently concluded that the government can earn more by cancelling refunds and abolishing the sales tax department. Instead of cosmetic measures like curbing expenditures on the presidency and the prime minister’s house, the finance minister should concentrate on effective steps like nabbing those who indulge in smuggling, tax evasion, electricity/gas theft and other such evil practices. Leaving them untouched will only prove that this government is no better than its predecessors.

Daily Times, June 15, 2013