Sindhi politicians united against MQM’s demand to tax farm income


KARACHI: The political parties of Sindh, including the PPP, the PML-N and the PML-Q, are united in their opposition to the MQM’s demand that agriculture income should be taxed.
The MQM, which has remained a staunch advocate of taxing the agriculture sector, has strongly raised the issue with the government again. MQM leaders have presented 9 recommendations to a team of the federal government as an alternative to the reformed GST, and on the top of list is the imposition of tax on farm income.
Politicians of Sindh belonging to various parties, majority of them agriculturists, have remained opponents of taxing farm income. Although they maintain political rivalries, they have a similar opinion on issues such as agriculture income and construction of the Kalabagh Dam, probably out of mutual interests.
PML-N leader Ghous Ali Shah told Pakistan Today that agricultural land owners were already paying various taxes. “The issue should be examined with pros and cons before taking a decision,” he said.
PPP MPA from Thatta Mohammad Sadiq Memon said his party was against agricultural income tax because it believes that the country had an agro-based economy, and there were already huge indirect taxes on the sector.
“Increasing more taxes on this sector will discourage the people,” he said, adding that the agriculture input such as the cost of seeds, tractors and urea was already costly for those affiliated with the profession and there were no guaranteed savings.
PML-F MPA Dr Rafiq Banbhan had similar views. He said agriculturists were already paying taxes on their income. He pointed out various agriculture taxes, such as dhal, abyano, and sugar cess.
“MQM leaders are unaware of the agriculture sector and that is why they are talking about imposing tax on the agriculture sector,” he said. PML-Q MPA Abdul Razaque Rahimoon called the MQM’s demand unjustified and said the party’s leaders should examine the situation of the agriculture sector.
“There is no more feudalism in Sindh and there are only land owners, who are already facing several problems,” he said, adding that the government should improve the existing taxation system instead of thinking about levying taxes on agriculture produce.
PPP MPA and senior party leader Bachal Shah said MQM wanted to divert attention from a genuine matter – one-time flood tax – by raising this non-issue at this time.