Paying taxes 'sacrilege' for Pak's elite class, politicians

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Islamabad, July 19(ANI): Pakistan's elite class, which includes the politicians, have been accused of fostering inequality in the society by not paying income tax.

A study by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency in Islamabad had revealed that Pakistan's income from taxes last year was the lowest in the country's history, but the assets of members of Parliament nearly doubled in the same period.

The average worth of a Pakistani Member of Parliament is 900,000 dollars, with its richest member topping 37 million dollars.

According to The New York Times, though the authorities have tried to expand the net in recent years, taxing profits from the stock market and real estate, entire swathes of the economy, like agriculture, a major moneymaker for the elite, remain untaxed.

"This is a system of the elite, by the elite and for the elite," the newspaper quoted Riyaz Hussain Naqvi, a retired government official who worked in tax collection for 38 years, as saying.

"It is a skewed system in which the poor man subsidizes the rich man," he added.

Statistics also reveal that out of over 170 million Pakistanis, less than two percent pay income tax, making Pakistan's revenue from taxes among the lowest in the world.

Jahangir Tareen, a businessman and member of Parliament who is trying to put taxes on the public agenda, said "Taxes are the Achilles' heel of Pakistani politicians."

Tareen paid 225,534 dollars in income tax in 2009, a figure he made public in Parliament last month.

"If you don't have income, fine, but then don't go and get into a Land Cruiser," he added. (ANI)

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