Pakistan

All efforts ‘futile’ if retailers are not taxed, Miftah Ismail tells govt

Former finance minister Miftah Ismail has warned the government that all its efforts to stabilise the economy will be “futile” if it does not tax retailers and asked the authorities to send people to jail if they do not comply.

“To start with, collect a tax of Rs4,500 from each retailer, if some people need to be sent to jail then send them [to] establish the writ of the state,” said Miftah during his interview on Geo News show “Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath”.

The Shahbaz Sharif government has announced a scheme to register retailers in order to bring them under the tax net but so far it has failed to achieve the desired results. According to a report less than 200 shopkeepers registered themselves with the Tajir Dost Scheme.

On the warning by retailers to carry out a shutter down strike in response to the imposition of the tax, the former finance minister stated “I don’t think it would not even last two days”. He gave the example of Karachi when the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) used to call out strikes in the 90s, saying that even then shops would open in the evening.

Recalling the reasons for taking back the tax on retailers during his stint as finance minister, Miftah said that “internal politics” in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had forced the government to take back the decision.

On the government’s move to block the SIMS of non-filers, Miftah labelled it a “correct decision”.

On Monday, the federal government directed the telecom authority and the other telecom operators to block mobile phone SIMs of over 500,000 non-filers, in a robust action against tax evaders amid the prevailing financial crisis facing the cash-strapped country.

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