LAHORE: Farmers have asked the government to tax the rich instead of the poor to remove unjust burden on the people, particularly the farming community which is running the economy by toiling day and night at their fields.
“The government should tax the rich and elite class of the country by going for direct taxes instead of overburdening the poor masses by levying indirect taxes like general sales tax which is leading to inflation in the country and making farm inputs unaffordable,” said Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee general secretary Farooq Tariq at a presser on Monday.
Flanked by Saima Zia of the Asian People’s Movement on Debt & Development, he said the national tax system was also plagued by gender biases, while it was allowing tax abuse by the corporate sector.
Mr Tariq said the PKRC and APMDD jointly called for tax justice to address the wealth inequality challenge that has disproportionately impacted the people of Global South, particularly of Pakistan.
Agri dept cautions against burning of crop residue
He alleged that Pakistan is losing $93.3 million per annum in the form of tax abuse by corporations, while there is $33.6m per annum tax revenue loss in the form of Pakistanis’ offshore wealth, which as per an estimate stands at $3.4 billion.
He pointed out that through nine tax amnesty schemes since 1959, the capitalist class was provided opportunities to legalise their black money amassed through tax aversion by paying a meager three-four per cent tax. A staggering amount of over Rs821bn was legalised through these schemes, he added. Apart from tax amnesty schemes, the capitalist class is normally given subsidies and concessions by the state. A 2021 UNDP report revealed that the Pakistani elite consumes $17.4bn or almost 6pc of the GDP every year in the form of subsidies.
Mr Tariq said all countries should be given equal voice in framing global tax rules under a UN Convention so that illegal financial flows through corporate tax abuses and tax aversion could be checked that were draining economies of the developing nations and depriving people of essential economic rights and services.
He demanded the implementation of ‘super tax’ and reforms in the national tax system to end biases and inequalities in tax rules.
Meanwhile, the Punjab agriculture department has urged farmers not to burn remains of their crops because it not only causes damage to organic matter of the soil but also creates smog during winter, APP reported.
A spokesman for the department said in Faisalabad on Monday that Pakistan was included among those top 10 countries which were severely affected by climatic changes and environmental pollution. He said smog was the most dangerous kind of pollution, which not only put its bad effects on human beings but also on animals and plants.
When farmers burn residue of their crops, it emits various kinds of poisonous gases which cause smog during winter, he said, adding that burning crop residue also inflicts irreparable damage on the organic matter of the soil which reduces productivity of crops.
The spokesman urged the farmers to use alternative methods in order to dispose of residue of their crops instead of burning it. If remains of crops are mixed in the soil, it would increase fertility of the land manifold after decomposition, he added.
He said the government had already prohibited farmers from burning residue of crops. In this connection, cases would also be registered against those peasants who would be found burning remains of their rice or other crops whereas a heavy fine of Rs200,000 could also be imposed on the violators, he warned.
Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2023