It has long been known that our parasitic ruling elite are not in the habit of paying taxes. They make tall claims about representing the people, they enjoy all the perks and privileges of power and they exercise their right of vote to impose tax on the poor people. But when it comes to fulfill their own tax obligation to the state, they play truant from law. Now a study has been published which shows in glaring details how our MNAs and MPAs cheat the exchequer, and how they tell lies about their income and taxes paid or not paid.
According to this study, of the 1,070 legislators sitting in the national and provincial assemblies about 500, or 47 percent, did not pay any income tax and 12 percent of them do not have even a National Tax Number. The non-taxpaying MNAs belong to all the major parties. PML-N has 54 non-tax paying MNAs, while, PTI has 19. It is indeed a paradox that Imran Khan who does not tire of condemning the looters of national wealth has his own party full of defaulters. PPP, MQM and JUI have their own ‘fair’ share of non-tax payers.
About 550 members declared tax payments in their nomination papers but, according to FBR, they either exaggerated their tax amounts or paid zero tax. About 200 of them showed lower earnings to reduce their tax obligation. The MNAs whose declarations were contradicted by FBR include some big names like PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif, PTI chairman Imran Khan, PTI VC Shah Mehmood Qureshi, MQM’s Dr Farooq Sattar, Maulana Fazlur Rahman and PPP’s Shazia Marri. Many prominent politicians also submitted conflicting income statements to the ECP and FBR. They include PPP’s Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Ch Nisar Ali Khan, Imran Khan and Pervez Elahi.
The provincial assemblies mirror the goings-on at the National Assembly level. As many 169 MPAs of the Punjab Assembly, or 43 percent of the total, pay zero tax. There is no tax record of another 23 MPs, while the claims of 53 MPAs that they pay tax have been denied by the FBR. 43 MPs do not even have an NTN. At least 59 members of the Sindh Assembly did not pay any tax in 2012, while 15 do not even have National Tax Numbers. It is a startling fact that in KPK, out of 124 Assembly members, 81 did not pay any tax in 2012. According to the FBR record, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak himself did not pay any tax.
This is a deplorable state of affairs, indeed. It is shameful that elected members exercise their voting right for imposing taxes on the people but they themselves don’t pay any tax. It boggles one’s mind to know that former Sindh minister for excise and taxation, Abdul Rauf Siddiqui, does not have an NTN. Similarly, the finance minister of KPK, Sirajul Haq, does not have a National Tax Number. What can we expect from such an Assembly? A contesting candidate signs an undertaking in the nomination papers and as per law, any mis-declaration can lead to his disqualification. Now that it has been proved with facts and figures that a majority of our elected representatives have lied and mis-declared about their contribution to the national exchequer, do they deserve to sit in the Assembly?