Author: Murtaza Talapur

Indirect Taxation – Burden on General Public

The current taxation system of Pakistan is based on the Income Tax Ordinance issued in 2001. It depicts a progressive tax system of Pakistan, but unfortunately, we are regressing instead of progressing. That discriminating taxation system has culminated in rising poverty and inequality in Pakistan that 40 per cent people live under the poverty line. The ratio of stunt children in Pakistan is rising approximately with 44 per cent of children stunted and 9.6 million children having experienced chronic nutrition deprivation.

There are four main sources of revenue for the government such as general sales tax (GST), central excise duty (CED), Customs Duty and Income Tax. The structure of these is highly dominated by indirect taxes, which combines over two-third (nearly 70 per cent) of combined federal and provincial tax receipts.

The general public in Pakistan is laboring under the heavy burden of taxes because all the common public necessary commodities are levied with heavy taxes. The poor people in Pakistan are taxed more than rich, with estimates that lowest 10 percent poor people of Pakistan contribute 16 percent of their income to indirect taxes while the rich 10 percent contribute only 10 per cent[1]. Those 10 percent of the poorest households contributes through indirect taxes such as General Sales Tax, Central Excise Duty, and Customs Duty.

The factionalized elites have captured the economy and dominate politics situation of the country. They make decisions that are in their favor and this is one of the giant hurdles toward progressive tax system. Those elites do not pay a due share of their wealth or affluent that contribute to tax revenue. Moreover, the widespread exemptions and privileges are granted to the rich and influential at the heavy costs of poor.

Thus, the concentration of wealth is in the hands of the few that leads to undue political influence, which ultimately robs citizens of natural resource revenues, produces unfair tax policies and encourages corrupt practices, and challenges the regulatory powers of governments. Of 10 million people who qualify to pay tax, only 2.5 million are actually registered to pay tax. Daily expenses of Prime Minister Secretariat are Rs 2.2 million. Pakistan Parliamentarians have on average assets worth $900,000 (with the richest member worth $37m), but only a few Parliamentarians pay tax. In 2010, a review of Parliament and provincial assemblies revealed that 61% of 15 lawmakers paid no income tax during the year they contested elections. The influence of elites continuous in the business world with; only 100 companies (out of an estimated 64,000) paying 80% of total taxes collected by the Federal Board of Revenue.

In Pakistan, there has been a shift from equitable taxes to highly inequitable ones. The dependence on indirect taxes ‐ even in income tax law under the garb of probable income has transferred the burden of taxes from the rich to the poor. The common people are paying an excessive sales tax of 17% (in fact 35%‐40% on finished imported goods after duties, mandatory value addition under sales tax law and income tax at source) on essential commodities while the rich are paying no wealth tax/income tax on their colossal assets/incomes.

Fair and equitable taxation policies should be devised as envisaged in Article 3 of the constitution: “The State shall ensure the elimination of all forms of exploitation and the gradual fulfillment of the fundamental principle, from each according to his ability to each according to his work”. In addition, a government needs to revamp the entire tax system – use taxation as a tool for economic development rather than collecting money for luxuries of the rulers. Besides this, a government should embark upon progressive income and corporation taxes for subsequent enforcement – a system in which the rich are liable to pay higher rates of taxes while everyone else pays tax as per their means. It is the responsibility of government to abolish general sales tax to Zero rate – a discriminatory indirect tax shifting the burden from unaffordable by ending the tax havens.

 

 

Author: Arooj Kamran

Climate Change and Water Resources

Water resources are important to both society and ecosystems. We depend on a reliable, clean supply of drinking water to sustain our health. We also need water for agriculture, energy production, navigation, recreation, and manufacturing. Many of these users put pressure on water resources, stresses that are likely to be exacerbated by climate change.

In many areas, climate change is likely to increase water demand while shrinking water supplies. This shifting balance would challenge water managers to simultaneously meet the needs of growing communities, sensitive ecosystems, farmers, ranchers, energy producers, and manufacturers.

In some areas, water shortages will be less of a problem than increases in runoff, flooding, or sea level rise. These effects can reduce the quality of water and can damage the infrastructure that we use to transport and deliver water.

The water cycle is a delicate balance of precipitation, evaporation, and all of the steps in between. Warmer temperatures increase the rate of evaporation of water into the atmosphere, in effect increasing the atmosphere’s capacity to “hold” water.Increased evaporation may dry out some areas and fall as excess precipitation on other areas.

Changes in the amount of rain falling during storms provide evidence that the water cycle is already changing. Over the past 50 years, the amount of rain falling during very heavy precipitation events has increased. Furthermore, rising temperatures cause snow to begin melting earlier in the year. This alters the timing of streamflow in rivers that have their sources in mountainous areas.

As temperatures rise, people and animals need more water to maintain their health and thrive. Many important economic activities, like producing energy at power plants, raising livestock, and growing food crops, also require water. The amount of water available for these activities may be reduced as Earth warms and if competition for water resources increases.

Many areas currently face water shortages. The amount of water available in these areas is already limited, and demand will continue to rise as population grows. Freshwater resources along the coasts face risks from sea level rise. As the sea rises, saltwater moves into freshwater areas. This may force water managers to seek other sources of fresh water, or increase the need for desalination (or removal of salt from the water) for some coastal freshwater aquifers used as drinking water supply.

The impacts of climate change on water availability and water quality will affect many sectors, including energy production, infrastructure, human health, agriculture, and ecosystems. 

Author: Maliha Hussain

Implementation- Need of the hour

It is frequently said that “ignorance of the law has no excuse” but what about the countries which are actually unable to implement laws. How can we talk about the quality of air, food, and water, when these basic necessities are not available to people living in underdeveloped countries. The environment has been a major concern for a few decades. But nothing practically has been done until now by the Government which shows their concern and responsibility towards their citizens. It’s the right of every citizen to have clean air, water, and hygienic food but we as a nation are stuck into the false promises of our rulers and politicians who are just concerned with their point scoring.

What can citizens expect from the country where the policies of the government change with every new government, where the priorities of the government change every day, then with whom can we expect to talk about and resolve the issues related to the environment. It is not important being the signatory of some agreement, important is to implement that law for the wellbeing of citizens. Pakistan is signatory to 14 multilateral agreements including Ramsar Convention on wetland, Convention on mitigatory species (CMS),  Convention on International Trade in Endangered  Species (CITES), Convention on law of Seas, Vienna   Convention on protection of Ozone Layer, Montreal protocol on Ozone Layer Depleting substances, Basel Convention on control of Transboundary movement of Hazardous wastes, Convention on Biological Diversity, United Nations Convention to Combat  Desertification, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), Kyoto Protocol to UNFCC, Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) for certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides, Cartagena Protocol on biosafety to CBD and Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

All these agreements were signed internationally for the betterment but these agreements are not fruitful yet because no framework to implement these agreements has been made. Recently there was Conference of Paris on climate change but no appreciable steps are taken as follow-up actions. Still, the non-renewable sources of energy are used and industries are generating pollution which is a major cause of climate change.

We have to ensure the safe use of chemicals, conserve the biological diversity, prevent the environmental degradation and make our future safe and sustainable by the implementation of laws. It is not of any worth to pass a law or sign a bilateral agreement, important is to implement a law with a proper framework so that the follow-up action should be taken to improve the existing environmental conditions. At the same time, we all have to understand that we cannot change all things in one night all we need is continuity to make the things better.We must be persistent and should create awareness in public about their rights. The government should take initiative to make things better and to make laws related to the availability of clean air, and healthy food. We should also come out of the blame game and work for the betterment of environment as an individual at our own level. We should help the government agencies to implement laws and recognize the loopholes for betterment.

Author: Riffat Gul

Pillar in an Economy

For every nation, there are few pillars, and they are considered as building blocks of a nation. These pillars are Military, Judiciary, and Youth! The stronger these pillars are, the more developed, and the more successful a nation is. The role of youth holds the central place, in deciding the fate of a nation. A very important fact is, that those countries, and nations which keep their youth-focused in the right direction and on the right path, and those countries, who consider their youth, as an important factor of their life are more progressive. Manpower, especially youth are the torch bearer of every nation.

Here in Pakistan, our youth lacks proper guidance, & leadership. All other developed and progressing countries in the world are aware of their worth, and they consider their youth as their asset. The reason for the success of these countries is they provide all the life necessities of life to their youth. Like Education, employment, health, and other facilities. If you are concerned about your youth, and you put it in the right direction, then you will see how productive and how different the results are.

We know, that Pakistan is in danger, and we are surrounded by different threats, including internal and external forces, which are trying to sabotage Pakistan and its peace. There are so many contradictions and problems, which are not letting us be ONE! To be united, we must eliminate the problems and internal disputes, which are among us. We should consider our youth as our power, and they should also consider serving their country as a national responsibly.

 

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