Opposition parties voice concern over amnesty scheme

Published May 15, 2019
Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi says it is inappropriate to repeatedly announce tax amnesty schemes. ─ File photo courtesy Amir Wasim
Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi says it is inappropriate to repeatedly announce tax amnesty schemes. ─ File photo courtesy Amir Wasim

ISLAMABAD: The opposition on Tuesday voiced concern over the government’s amnesty scheme and said it would pave the way for legalisation of ill-gotten assets.

Speaking at a press conference, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi expressed the hope that Prime Minister Imran Khan would not take a U-turn on his government’s amnesty scheme.

He said the amnesty scheme announced by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was a package of reforms and the present government should have continued it. He observed that it was inappropriate to repeatedly announce tax amnesty schemes.

He said that in the past Imran Khan and former finance minister Asad Umar always cast aspersions on the amnesty scheme, but now it seemed that it was fine with them.

Mr Abbasi said that the time had proved that every policy introduced by the PML-N was picked up by the government of Imran Khan. “This is the first time the IMF programme was given a political outlook,” he said.

Ask government to disclose details of IMF agreement

He asked the government to disclose the details of the agreement reached with the IMF. He said it was for sure that the deal with the IMF would bring a “tsunami of price hike”.

Parliamentary leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party in the Senate Sherry Rehman said the amnesty schemes were limited and could not be introduced frequently. “If the government just wanted to whiten the black money then why did it make big promises,” she asked.

In a statement, she said the government had claimed that the amnesty scheme was for the corrupt, if so, who was offering it now?

Mr Rehman slammed the government for keeping parliament in the dark over the agreement with the IMF. She wondered that if the government had good intentions, why it was only briefing the members of the ruling party and its allies on the IMF deal.

She asked the government to immediately share the terms of the IMF deal with parliamentarians and the nation.

“The IMF’s official statement says that current arrangements would be rebalanced with the provinces, what does this mean? Why are possible alterations to a resource allocation formula protected by the Constitution being discussed with the IMF?”

Ms Rehman said: “Tabdeeli Sarkar has turned out to be Ghulami Sarkar. It has knelt down before the IMF like no other government has ever done. Instead of giving relief to the masses in Ramazan, it has brought the IMF programme on the harshest terms.”

She said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) was now trying to get the title of the biggest status quo party ever as it committed a political suicide by begging before the lenders.

PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken yet another U-turn. “You are so incompetent that it took you nine months to copy PML-N’s amnesty scheme.”

She said the amnesty scheme’s implementation required capability like that of Nawaz Sharif’s experienced team.

She said the prime minister had given amnesty to PTI’s undeclared or illegal accounts. She said nobody would trust the amnesty scheme of a person who could take another U-turn tomorrow.

She said the increase in allocation for ‘Ehsas programme’ was an admission that the IMF agreement would increase poverty and the number of the poor in the country.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2019

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