Tariq Ullah Wardak
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday vowed to bring in reforms to enhance tax collection in a week’s time, increase the tax base and improve governance to boost foreign investment.
“We will do all within our means to stand up on our own feet. We cannot continue to live on loans and still yearn for dignity,” Imran Khan said during his maiden speech in the Senate.
He said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has embarked upon a cost-cutting austerity drive to slash its expenses. The measures were aimed at giving a clear message to all that the money of the tax payers was not meant for ostentatious lifestyle of the rulers, but for spending on the welfare of the people.
Imran mentioned the 23% of malnourished children, the 43% of children with stunted growth and over 22.5 million out of school kids and said those were the priority areas of his government.
“The tax money has to be spent on welfare of the masses, it is not for our ostentatious lifestyle, but for provision of basic facilities to them.”
Imran Khan said the country today was burdened with over Rs 28,000 billion loans and was forced to borrow more to pay back the heavy interest. He cited a verse from the Holy Quran which states that Allah Almighty does not change the condition of a nation, unless the people change themselves.
The prime minister who initiated the country’s largest cancer hospital network based on public charities said the people of Pakistan ranked amongst the top philanthropists and the people would readily pay the taxes, only if they knew that their money would be used for the right cause.
“We are working on a plan to increase our tax base, improve governance, bring in foreign investment and generate revenue,” Imran Khan said.
He said the overseas Pakistanis were an asset and efforts would be made to encourage them to invest in their country. He said reforms were being initiated to enhance performance of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and auction of additional vehicles on the pool of the Prime Minister House.
He said he was advised to attend the session of the United Nations General Assembly in September, but he opted not to do so as he believed in first putting the house in order.
Imran Khan said his government was committed to raise the stature of the Parliament and said he and his team would be available for accountability, with the sole objective of improving governance.
He also vowed to reduce expenses, stop money laundering, and make efforts to increase government revenue.
He said the government had discussed the matter with the speaker of National Assembly for amendment in rules to allow the prime minister answer the questions at Question Hour.
Tariq Ullah Wardak