Nearly half Pakistan’s lawmakers do not pay taxes, according to a study, findings that may endanger billions of dollars in IMF and other loans and aid that shore up a faltering economy.
Cracking down on rampant tax evasion is a main condition of a US$6.7 billion IMF program aimed at stabilizing the nuclear-armed US ally of 180 million people.
Big donors like Britain, which has committed more than US$1 billion to Pakistani education, are considering slashing aid unless more rich Pakistanis pay tax.
The report, which identifies some ministers among the legislators who pay no tax, was drawn up by the Center for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan, an independent research group.
Pakistan has a 9 percent tax to gross domestic product ratio, one of the world’s lowest. Fewer than 1 percent of citizens file income taxes.
“If politicians don’t pay taxes themselves, they have lost the moral authority to impose taxes on others,” said Umar Cheema, the author of the report.
The Finance Ministry said December tax collection last year was up by about a quarter compared with the year before. Cheema said nearly 80 percent of that was through indirect taxes on items like fuel.
“Whenever there is pressure from the donor agencies, they just increase indirect taxes, which shifts the burden on the poor and lets the rich off again,” Cheema said.
1. shore up v. phr.
支撐；穩住 (zhi1 cheng1; wen3 zhu4)
例: The unpopular president has tried hard to shore up his own political position.
2. draw up v. phr.
寫出；起草；制定 (xie3 chu1; qi2 cao3; zhi4 ding4)
例: I haven’t drawn up anything for the proposal yet.
3. let off v. phr.
放過；寬恕 (fang4 guo4; kuan1 shu4)
例: I’ll let you off this time, but never again.