As expected, the government is being pressured to withdraw proposals to recover the tax evaded by property speculators and such like-minded people.
A firm of chartered accountants has recommended that a ‘one-time amnesty scheme’ be announced for such fraudsters.
Over the last 60 years, we have seen many amnesty schemes, but the result is that the nation has grown poorer, while those who whiten their black money get richer and richer. They know that they will never be punished, so they continue cheating, fully expecting a tax amnesty every two years to whitewash their crimes.
Tax amnesties have always failed in the past. So why are the experts again advising the government to avoid punishing the criminals? Things have got so bad that honest taxpayers regret why they have always paid up to 30pc tax on their incomes every year, while those who merrily evade taxes remain free to cheat.
Instead of a two or three per cent recovery on evaded taxes, the government should get tough and recover 30pc as per the existing law. For the present, it can waive the other punishments, like a 30pc penalty and two years of imprisonment, but it should not buckle under pressure.
Pakistan is fighting a war for its very survival and needs every rupee to win the war. A tax amnesty will only embolden the racketeers, who think it is their right to break laws to enrich themselves. The government should start punishing such people immediately to save the country.
Shakir Lakhani
Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2016