ISLAMABAD: Calling taxpayers “heroes of the nation”, Prime Minster Imran Khan on Wednesday vowed to increase tax collection from Rs4 trillion to Rs8tr per year.

Addressing a ceremony held to give awards to top taxpayers, the prime minister lashed out at previous rulers for what he called getting their medical treatment abroad and said he had imposed a complete ban on such facility for public office-holders.

“Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Ishaq Dar and their family members always went abroad for medical treatment ignoring pathetic condition of local hospitals. Whereas I have undergone critical medical treatment twice but in a local hospital,” he added.

Talking about austerity measures of the present government, PM Khan said he had started living in his own house in Banigala without declaring it a camp office for the prime minister.

“I have cut 30 per cent expenditure of Prime Minister House and have been living in my own house on my own expenses.”

The prime minister said the government would not increase taxes but the tax net by providing facilities to taxpayers. “Pakistan simply cannot prosper with just 1.7 million people paying taxes in a country of 210m.”

As a result of this disparity, Mr Khan said, the government was forced to impose indirect taxes on the common people who often could not bear this burden. He noted that only 72,000 people in the country declared an income of over Rs200,000.

“It is my mission to tax those people whose luxurious lifestyles do not match with the amount of taxes they pay,” he added.

Meanwhile, the government issued a list of top taxpayers of the country, including former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and awards were distributed among them during the ceremony. However, Mr Abbasi regretted to attend the function.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2019