Miftah says Pakistan can rid of IMF only through higher tax collections, exports

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Pakistan could get rid of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) only by achieving at least 15 per cent tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 15pc exports to GDP, former federal minister Miftah Ismail said on Sunday.

“The country will continue to approach IMF and other international lenders for financial support as long as the country does not achieve maximum 15pc tax and 15pc exports to GDP,” the PML-N leader said while addressing a seminar titled ‘Reimagining Pakistan’ at Habib University.

Ismail said Pakistan’s tax to GDP was 16pc in 1998, while today, it is only 9pc, calling calling for broadening tax base and enhancing exports.

He asked the incumbent PML-N-led coalition government to live within its means and curtail expenses and suggested privatisation of loss making public sector entities like the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

Stressing the need to revisit National Finance Commission Awards (NFC) to lower burden on the Centre, Miftah called for the devolution of powers under 18th constitutional amendment from four provinces (chief minister houses) to the lower level such as divisions, districts and UCs.

NFC revisit doesn’t mean you cut provincial share. Provinces can collect taxes at their own. Tax collection authority should be given to them. Centre is financially overburdened, and bankrupted even in local currency. We don’t have money to pay debt in local currency. “Pakistan is not doing justice to its citizens,” he said.

He highlighted some 10 points that are very crucial to resolve the chronic problems Pakistan is currently facing. “We have to unite as one nation, and work for an inclusive growth.” he said adding the elite needs no growth because it has resources and savings, but the poor does. We have to create employment, ensure quality education, and provide healthcare to the citizens.

The former finance minister said population control is a must for Pakistan. “We don’t have family planning. We have one of the highest population growth rates in the world and due to this we lose 1 percent GDP annually,” he added.

The PML-N leader also underlined the need to focus on education, saying neighbouring India was establishing world best IT institutions, while half of Pakistani children were out of school.

Miftah also stressed upon gender equity saying the gender inclusive growth is a must.