Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 31 May 2020

Almost half of Pakistani politicians say they don’t pay tax

Findings of new study may endanger billions in IMF and other loans and aid that shore up a faltering economy.

ISLAMABAD // Nearly half of Pakistan’s legislators reported they paid no taxes, according to a study released on Monday, findings that may endanger billions of dollars in IMF and other loans and aid that shore up a faltering economy.

Cracking down on rampant tax evasion is a main condition of a $6.7 billion (Dh24.6bn) International Monetary Fund programme aimed at stabilising the country.

The report, which identifies some ministers among politicians who pay no tax, was drawn up by the Center for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan, an independent research group.

The group based its report on documents from the Election Commission, which publishes the financial declarations of political candidates and their statements from the tax authority.

Tariq Azeem, a spokesman for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s ruling party, said the tax authorities and the Election Commission used different forms to gather tax data. He said that may explain the discrepancies.

Asked why some politicians appeared never to have registered with tax authorities, Mr Azeem said: “I don’t know.”

Spokesmen for other political parties said they had not read the report and could not comment. None of the politicians the report identified as tax evaders was available for comment.

Almost all of Pakistan’s legislators have lucrative second careers.

The average net worth of a legislator in 2010 was $800,000, according to a study of their asset declarations by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency. “If politicians don’t pay taxes themselves, they have lost the moral authority to impose taxes on others,” said Umar Cheema, the author of the report.

* Reuters

Updated: December 23, 2013 04:00 AM

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