ISLAMABAD: Senator Muhammad Talha Mehmood is an active member of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue, special committee on performance of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) as well as Parliamentary Committee on the project of Pak-China Economic Corridor. He is playing an active role in the proceedings of the House and committees.
During an interview to Customs Today, he said that although Pakistan’s progress in financial sector had been acknowledged worldwide, the benefits of the progress did not reach the masses as yet.
He said that there is an impression that Pakistani economy is making progress by dint of foreign and domestic loans and borrowings. Factually, mounting tune of foreign and domestic loans and borrowings can’t benefit the people, he added.
The ultimate solution to the issue is enhancement of foreign exchange reserves by creating more job opportunities as well as bringing more and more foreign direct investment in the country.
He said that all the economic sectors’ development and progress was interlinked with each other. Foreign exchange reserves must be increased through increased volume of exports and reduced tune of imports. In this regards the government must ensure covering the fiscal deficit by improving exports level and reducing the quantum of imports. Therefore, Ministry of Commerce must come up with a more comprehensive trade policy. In this regard our foreign missions, especially the trade consolers and trade missions must be activated.
He said that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) like tax authorities of other countries was making efforts to meet the revenue targets set by the government but in this regard, FBR should not forget best international practices while levying new tax laws. It is an anomaly that there is different rate of income tax, sales tax and import duty on different varieties of the things which is irk some for the people. Therefore, it is dire need of the hour to rationalize rates of taxes on different items. “The government is taxing the poor through indirect and double taxation, protecting the rich unabashedly and is taking personalised decisions disregarding the institutional mechanisms of CCI, the Parliament and the regulatory bodies mandated by law,” he said.
To another question, Senator said that the easiest and durable possible way for uplifting the economy was industrialization of the country. Both the foreign and domestic industrialists intending to invest in Pakistan must be given due incentives to materialize the dream of an industrial Pakistan. Therefore the government must come up with more dynamic and comprehensive investment plan to attract more and more investors to invest in the country. In this connection, government must announce the establishment more and more industrial zones, free export zones and export processing zones with lucrative incentives for the investors so that foreign direct investment in bulk quantity may be invested in the country.
He expressed view that the government policies were aimed at further burdening the poor with more and more taxes while providing maximum benefits to the elite class and that 63 percent GST on diesel was a world record. He said that by not transferring the benefit of reduced oil prices to the people demonstrated government’s lopsided economic priorities as well as its personalized style of governance. He also questioned the minister’s holding meetings with IMF officials in Dubai instead of Pakistan while foreign dignitaries continued to arrive here, including the Queen of Netherlands. He questioned the utility of foreign exchange reserves for the common man.
Senator regretted that the government was not passing on the relief to the masses despite reduction in price of oil in the international market, on one hand, the middle-class people were paying electricity bills after borrowing money from others and on the other, factory owners were busy in stealing electricity. He said that government was relying on printing new currency notes to enhance the tune of foreign exchange reserves. The government has not provided required tune of funds to Pakistan Steel Mills, but it is spending several billion from the national kitty on other petty and lesser important projects like laptops and it arranged from nowhere an amount of Rs500bn for payment of circular debt to independent power producers (IPPs) and no third party audit had been carried out and payments had been made to IPPs as demanded and settled by the Ministry of Finance. It was of critical importance to carry out audit of the fuel supplied, the power produced in relation to the fuel supplied and plant utilization capacity of each power plant before accepting their claims.