September 29, 2010

When you impose “tax culture” on already taxed people

Forever in your debt, TAX. (Photo:
So what do these new taxes that we keep hearing about mean to the common man? Death. Let me give you an insight. Over the last 6 months, the prices of essential foodstuff have risen more than 600%. The prices of electricity have been raised by more than 150%. The price of CNG has gone from Rs 44 to Rs 55. The school fees, where the school’s have been left intact and not closed down, have also gone up by more than 50%. But the minimum wage has only been raised by 16%; from Rs 6000, to Rs 7000.

Now normally in this land also known as the sanctuary of Islam, we are only too happy to bash the capitalistic, Zionist-Jew run world economy that has sucked the blood from all developing economies and left them with crinkled and frail with the passage of time. But a closer look on our own apathy, or lack of thereof, reveals quite a different story. While we love to keep feeding our white elephants (PIA, Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Steel Mills etc) public money to keep afloat, we never realize the grave consequence that these public owned enterprises are having on our national resources.

In the case of the Pakistan Steel Mills, the Supreme Court of Pakistan terminated its sale in 2007 on the basis of lack of transparency. Fair enough. But as soon as the PPP government took over a profitable organization miraculously turned into a huge loss making machine. And as if right on cue, the Prime Minister authorized turning 5000 daily wage employees into permanent employees of the Pakistan Steel Mills.

What most of us fail to realize is that in a capitalistic economy, we are basically defining a playground where there is equal opportunity for all. The Pakistan telecom sector is a perfect example. The other thing is that you only sell a public enterprise when it is profitable so that you can make maximum profit out of its sale; but you also sell them when you know they are financially bleeding you so bad, you have been put on life support, which is basically our case.

My point of bringing this whole rhetoric up was to point out that billions of rupees a month are wasted simply because the MD PIA, or the PR Chairman decided to fart one day. So why should the poor salaried class pay for the misdemeanors of some jackasses who cannot distinguish left from right?

And then, right there, is our second dilemma. The salaried class is burdened with the task of paying for the mundane atrocities of those people who are too rich to pay their taxes. There is no agriculture tax. Why? Why isn’t there one? There is no wealth tax. Again, why? Why shouldn’t Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari pay taxes that are compatible with their statuses in society? I’m sure they weren’t born with golden wings even if they were born with gold spoons in their mouths.

And then there is the army. All this talk of imposing the reformed GST (which I want to be implemented because it means taxing those who do not pay their taxes), the urban property tax (8 – 15%), and the flood tax (10% of income exceeding Rs 300,000 per annum) is basically a way of fulfilling the new budgetary commitment made to the army where it’s budget has been increased by Rs 100 billion. So basically, we’re going to be paying more yet get nothing in return. The electricity will still play hide and seek, the roads will still have potholes, the flood affected will still live under the starry skies, but know that the generals will grow even fatter and wealthier than they are now.

And you know what the really sad part is? The PPP government has all but cancelled the education grants and budget for the HEC. Neither do they have the capacity, or the brain expertise needed to correct the primary education system. But I suppose that does appear to be a lot for a government that has Fauzia Wahab as its media liaison.

The common population will keep paying for the shenanigans of the morally indecent and corrupt people who rule us. It will suffer in silence because that is what it knows best. Its money will be spent on wherever the whims of the rulers’ dictate. All that the common population can do is pray; pray for deliverance.