Poor Pakistanis — Best source of income for all!
Excise and taxation are one of the main sources of revenue for governments in current economic systems all over the world. Developed countries have very high ratio of direct taxes and spending maximum collected revenue on development and welfare of their citizens. These countries are providing all basic facilities almost free of cost to their citizens and these facilities are including health, education, pensions, public transport etc.
Similarly oil rich Gulf countries have nominal direct taxes which are being collected from consumers in terms of some basic dues, registration and renewal fees in business and service sectors. These countries are also spending heavy amounts collected from taxes in providing all basic facilities to their nationals as well.
These countries have developed error free modern taxand revenue collection systems and have highly trained dedicated staff to sincerely run their collection systems. Collection of direct or indirect tax does not matter however the mechanism and staff does matter a lot who run these types of systems. The allocation of these collected funds on priority basis is actually also matters.
Developed countries have also full control on prices of all basic necessities like food, electricity, fuels, education, health and public transport. And prices of these goods and services never rise unnecessarily. Even in some countries, prices of all basic necessities are fixed and vendors or middlemen do not have any authority to change prices. In addition to this they have very strong Market Price Control system which also ensure the quality of products.
Unfortunately, due to weak taxation system and leakage of public funds our national income and expenditures are not balanced which is causing low revenue for government. So, government and public sector departments have very different approach to run their expenditures. If we look at our political history for the last 30 years only. There are several examples where governments raised the prices of basic necessities including fuels, electricity, basic food and pharmaceuticals etc. to earn extra revenue and to run their expenses.
Fuel and Electricity are two major products which are being controlled by government in Pakistan and any fluctuation in the prices of these products can directly affect common citizens including those who are living below poverty line. Almost 90% of our total population is consuming these two products in their daily life and majority of this segment is from lower middle class. So, any price hike in these products can directly affect 90% of our population.
PTV Fees is also unnecessarily being charged to all electricity consumers even to mosques and to those who do not have purchasing power to buy television
It is on record that whenever government or any relevant organization need extra funds, they simply raise the fuel, gas or electricity prices.Only in electricity, consumers are paying Neelum Jhelum Project Charges, PTV Fees and fuel price adjustment. And along with these charges, government raise the price of electricity per unit to get some more revenue. PTV Fees is also unnecessarily being charged to all electricity consumers even to mosques and to those who do not have purchasing power to buy television.
Same thing is happening in case of Fuels and Gas. Almost everybody is directly or indirectly linked with petrol, gas and diesel prices. Some of them own vehicles and agriculture machinery and some of them are using vehicles for transportation. So, any rise in fuel prices can affect everybody directly or indirectly.
Majority of our population is from lower middleclass and they have very limited income and resources to run their kitchens so any increase in prices of basic commodities can badly disturb their budgets while on other hand government can easily collect maximum revenue. We can say that these poor Pakistanis are one of the best sources of income for governments.
Government should ensure to strengthen excise and taxation system so that nobody can escape from taxations and collected revenue should be allocated on priority basis in health and education sector so that maximum people from lower middle class can get benefits. Use of technology and advance collection systems cannot be effective until and unless operational staff is not dedicated and sincere. This can enable relevant departments to increase revenue for government spendings and proper utilization of funds for public welfare can ease the life of common citizens. By this rise in revenue can provide government the real source of income instead of to get revenue by raising unnecessary prices of basic products that can directly affect poor citizens.
Secondly, government should strengthen price control unit to discourage unnecessary hike in prices of other basic consumer products and also ensure quality of products. We already have consumer courts but due to unawareness about this facility common people never approach these courts related to consumer products’ price and quality. By mobilizing these courts and giving public awareness about these courts can also help common consumers to get quality products on best competitive prices.
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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.