ISLAMABAD: Political economist Dr Pervez Tahir on Wednesday called for revival of trade with India to decrease people’s woes.
He said the federal cabinet’s size should be cut down in conformity with the requirement of the 18th Amendment. Since the federal development spending is financed by borrowing, it ought to be reduced to zero until the budget is balanced, he said, adding that defence expenditure “has a tail longer than… necessary”. It’s time to improve the tooth-to-tail ratio, he stressed.
Dr Tahir was addressing the participants of the Third Asma Jahangir Memorial Lecture organised by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Former PPP senator Farhatullah Babar also spoke at the event, which was moderated by rights activist Nasreen Azhar.
Dr Tahir suggested that income of big landholders must be subjected to normal income taxation. Wealth tax, inheritance tax and estate duties need to be re-imposed, he said, adding that there should be no increase in indirect taxes. Provinces should devote 50 per cent of their income to development budget and provide the corresponding current budget to fully comply with Article 25-A within two years, he said.
“Property tax should be fully devolved to local governments for effective public service delivery and trade should be opened in the region to deal with the current account deficit,” he suggested.
Political economist says holders of large swathes must pay taxes ‘like everyone else’
While talking about human rights lawyer and social activist Asma Jahangir, Dr Tahir said he knew Asma since the time she was a schoolgirl, adding that those were the days of the student movement launched against the rights usurper Ayub Khan.
“What greater pleasure can there be than celebrating the memory of someone you first saw as a teenage girl who then surpassed all of us as a fearless leader and an outstanding champion of the rights of the weak and the exploited.”
Addressing the event, Mr Babar said: “Everyone says that perks and privileges of parliamentarians should be reduced but even we cannot ask that how and why 90 acers of land worth Rs5 billion was given to a general in Lahore at the time of his retirement. How DHA has become the biggest real estate dealer and FWO has become the biggest contractor by getting contracts without bids.”
Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2023