Agriculture and Pakistan

Though I lived most of my life in urban areas my roots belong to rural areas and I spent a remarkable time of my life in a rural part of the country. There is a huge difference if I compare the time of today and time I experienced 5-10 years ago. I feel the change in the air I breathe and the path I walk on.

I see dull faces of farmers worried about annual yield and how they are going to pay their debts. Sadly, the government of Pakistan has not planned much about their agriculture sector on which 50-60% of their population relies on. Pakistan has the best canal and irrigation system in the world and we are not taking full benefit from this blessing.

We are witnessing a majority of rural sector migrating to the urban sector because of immense losses in agriculture businesses. Ultimately, population density in big cities increases rapidly causing other major issues. This is also a major cause of the falling economy, food crisis, and inequality. The rights of the farmers must be reviewed and their benefit must be made sure otherwise a major source of income would vanish within just a few years.

Especially the areas where Pakistan excels such as cotton, rice, and wheat production, it is God gifted that we have excellent climatic conditions for these. Pakistan needs to improve its production of corn, vegetables, and oilseed so that imports of the country are lessened. Pakistan has everything that needs to be in a developed country but unfortunately, we are not fully benefiting from those resources.

Agriculture is the backbone of the country has declined so much that it has become crucial for Pakistan to stabilize. So, if Pakistan promotes and invests in agriculture more like it should, it would definitely result in prosperity.

TAX REFORMS IN PAKISTAN

The dawn of new era sunrise explodes itself as it rays flush down the crimson in order to announce the outset of a new day. Let envision the vitality of tax reforms in Pakistan.  Tax policy in Pakistan began with the Government of India Act, 1935, wherein same was in the provincial domain. Subsequently, it was transferred to the federal government under the General Sales Tax Act, 1948. The government started implementation of the sales tax under Sales Tax Act, 1951, which provided for a limited base but subsequently the tax base was broadened through a Presidential Order of Taxation of Sales and Purchase in 1960 thus incorporating import, export and manufacturing of commodities besides extending several incentives. The Sales Tax Act 1951 was amended in 1981. In order to introduce the Value Added Tax (VAT), the Act of 1951 was repealed by the Sales Tax Act, 1990.

The sales tax on services was introduced in 2000 in the provinces which led all the provinces to promulgate relevant ordinances, though it was collected by the federal government on account of weak capacity at the provinces. Eventually, the 18th constitutional amendment 2010 transferred the sales tax on services to provinces.It necessitated provincial legislation for sales tax on services and establishment of tax collecting entities. Taking the lead, Sindh established Sindh Revenue Board in 2011, followed by Punjab Revenue Authority in 2012 and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Revenue Authority (KPRA) legislated in 2013 through enactment of KP Finance Act, 2013.

More resources will naturally result in expanding fiscal space that can be utilized to further the provincial development agenda. Without strengthening the taxation framework, all government initiatives are difficult to materialize, hence taxes provide the basis for sustainable peace, good governance, and development.

The sales tax on services is faced with numerous challenges. Lack of documented economy, lack of awareness, unwillingness to pay taxes due to lack of trust on state institutions, weak tax culture, corruptions and misuse of public resources, tax illiteracy among small business owners, lack of will and capacity of the withholding agents, intra-province jurisdiction issues e.g. settled areas and PATA and dependency on the federal government in several areas of tax management are major among them.

The provincial governments have realized the need for generating their own revenue but much is needed to be done towards tapping the actual potential. Provision of smart and convenient processes will work to an extent. Apart from all the legalities and technicalities of the system, fostering a culture of taxation should be the overarching objective of the tax authorities.

People simply don’t like being taxed. They feel of being robbed by the state while paying taxes. They should have felt as if they are making an investment unto their own self in a collective way, which in fact is the rationale behind taxation. This inherent malady is to be addressed as perceptions build over generations are hard to change but we have to begin at some point. Curbing corruption and being courteous to taxpayers will contribute, but not much. Tax education at massive scale is the solution.

 

Climate Change

Climate change to a developing country Is like a Russian proverb which translation is “Trouble never comes alone” Already a political prone area swinging between poverty and unemployment Pakistan has been ranked as a seventh most vulnerable country prone to climate change effects and disasters, according to climate risk index 2018.

Series of disastrous events form last twenty years engulfed almost 11,000 lives and almost USD 4 billion economy loses. This is the figure that is being marked but there is much to be considered in the terms of agricultural and vegetation lose and list goes long …

Pakistan like other developing countries is suffering for the sins of others with the carbon emission 0.48 percent in comparison to the 29.51, 14.34, 6.81 percent of China, United state of America and India respectively. According to this ratio, Pakistan is the least contributor to carbon emission. Although, some are of the view that Pakistan can earn and earned a lot by Carbon trading but is that little is enough to mitigate and adapt climate change effects? The answer would be absolute NO! a big NO!

Considering all above facts, one can conclude the discussion that Pakistan is suffering because of others but is this isn’t a lame excuse to go with? One can’t deny the fact but on the other hand what we are doing to drag ourselves out of it. Is our Climate Change Policy is effectively implementing by concern organizations? Do we have a collaborative mechanism pool in our strengths collectively with Government and civil sector organizations?

Although, Trump policies came up with a huge cut in financing in development sector especially on climate change issues hope is still there. At least Pakistan can do much considering allocated resources in mass sensitization on Climate Change Adaptation and mitigation measures. Little investment of government in renewable energy like Hydro, Biomass, Solar and wind energy can make a remarkable change to Pakistan’s economy. Furthermore, coordination between intergovernmental departments and CSOs is the call of time to come up with effective and sustainable solution to the problem and to avoid overlapping roles and responsibilities of each.

 

Climate Change: A Real Threat for Pakistan

In recent decades, Pakistan has faced extreme weather conditions such as floods, droughts, and cyclones that have killed and displaced thousands of people destroyed their livelihoods and damaged local infrastructure. For instance, the flood of 2010 killed 1600 people and the heat wave in Karachi during the month of June 2015 led to the death of more than 1200. These extreme weather events are a stark reminder that Pakistan is most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

According to global climate risk index 2018 reported by German watch, Pakistan is the seventh most vulnerable country to climate change. This means that these natural hazards will only increase in frequency and severity in the upcoming decades.

The government of Pakistan has formulated various climate change policies and acts to tackle climate change threat, but their implementation remains a question. According to Zahid Hamid, Climate Change Minister of Pakistan, the government needs to implement climate change policy and projects that boost Pakistan’s climate resilience, set up early warning systems, and protect lives and livelihoods of people, through consultation and understanding with all the provincial units.

In this scenario, local communities and stakeholders should also be empowered so that they can participate actively in vulnerability assessment and implementation of adaptation and mitigation projects. Their inclusion will offer diverse perspectives and solutions along with an increase in a number of supporters and active participants in the climate change dialogue.

When it comes to the threat of climate change, all of us must do our part. We not only have a responsibility to reduce our individual carbon footprints by reforming our lifestyles but we also need to get involved at the community level to promote awareness. We need to take proactive action and make efforts to green our neighborhood, adopt environment-friendly practices, get involved in environmental protection programs, and support governmental actions on climate change. By joining hands and acting locally, we can effectively address the threat of climate change.