Published Date: Jul 4, 2015
‘Pakistan must reduce indirect taxes’
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan must stop tax dodging through better policy implementation to move forward on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), says Penny Lawrence, Deputy Chief Executive, Oxfam GB.
She advised the government to replace indirect taxes by direct taxes as the former hit middle and the lower classes the most. At the same time, those with higher income are allowed to getaway, without paying their tax liability matching their income.
She was delivering a special talk on SDGs and Vision-2025, organised by the SDPI, in collaboration with Oxfam GB, on Friday.
She also cited examples of Latin American countries where various policy measures were taken to encourage share of direct taxes that will ultimately be used for the welfare of the people.
The Nordic countries are also best example for Pakistan to follow, she said.
The year 2015 is important for development. Three summits take place this year that are intended to shape the global sustainable development agenda for the next 15 years. In September, the world will agree a set of sustainable development goals to succeed the millennium development goals, which will set target for the next 15 years.
She said extreme economic inequality is out of control and getting worse. From Ghana to Germany, South Africa to Spain, the gap between the rich and poor is rapidly increasing. “Just 80 rich individuals hold more wealth than the poorest half of the world population,” she said.
At the same time, the impacts of climate change are exacerbating this growing divide. As temperature rises, she said, extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and severe, crop and livelihood are being devastated and the efforts of people on low incomes to feed their families are being undone.
The real challenge, she said was not to get goals that speak to the major crisis of the time but the means of implementation of the documents.
She said Oxfam is looking forward to pursue three major development goals, which are; integrating impact of climate change into all other possible development goals, reducing risks of disaster and, extreme poverty and inequality, which very often, exist side by side.
And, she said, it depends on how the government engages its own citizens in ensuring that their voice is heard, and leads to accountability. She praised the government on integrating SDGs into the Vision-2015.
Executive Director of SDPI Dr Abid Suleri in his talk said the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were thrown as a blanket across the board, and individual needs of the groups were not regarded into the strategy.
“Now, we are talking about three streams, which are, handling climate change, reducing risk of disaster and containing poverty. They all boil down to bringing resilience to the people. And that is the aim, we all should work with,” he said.
Dr Zafar Naeem, Member, Social Sector, Planning Commission of Pakistan, explained that similarity between the Vision-2025 and SGDs was not a coincidence.
It was the culmination of a long consultative process, held by the government with different stakeholders.
MDGs were unravelled with a top-down approach, whereas, the Vision-2025 has been adopted with a bottom-up approach, which has integrated SDGs into its policy initiative, he said.
He admitted that the government was facing some problems in implementation, because the devolution was done in haste, so the government could not develop linkages, and some of the value chains are lying vacant.