Another amnesty scheme has been announced by the PML-N government (the fourth in its present tenure). For those who don’t know, an amnesty scheme benefits only those who have been looting and plundering the country by tax evasion, under-invoicing, smuggling, corruption and similar nefarious activities. This “black” money is then sent abroad to be deposited in foreign banks or invested in buying property. While Pakistanis are said to have invested heavily in the Dubai property market, estimated to be about seven billion dollars, they have deposited 150-200 billion dollars in Swiss banks alone (this is more than 20 trillion rupees, four times the country’s annual budget of 5 trillion rupees).
So, instead of the government taking steps to punish these criminals, it is again giving them a “one-time” amnesty to declare their foreign assets for a nominal charge (probably 3 percent. It will be recalled that the last amnesty in 2016 was also a “one-time” amnesty, which resulted in only 128 people brought under the tax net and a paltry amount collected by the FBR.

The question arises, why is the government allowing criminals to get away with this loot and plunder? If the honest tax payer sees that tax evaders are never punished, will he not think that he is a fool to pay up to 30%  of his income as income tax every year, while those who cheat the government are able to whiten their black money by paying only two to three percent?

But what is really shocking is that no one in the opposition has said a word against the latest amnesty scheme (not even Imran Khan). I can understand why the PML-N should offer another amnesty because it has among its voters many who are tax evaders. But the PTI apparently supporting the amnesty makes one wonder if its silence is also to retain the corrupt in its ranks. Why else is Imran Khan not shouting “laanat to this amnesty”?