Taxation without persecution

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Leading industrialists, such as Mian Mohammad Mansha, his family and conglomerate of companies pay massive taxes to the government, a practice that should be emulated by all our business houses in a transparent manner

 

As a part of the Prime Minister Tax Incentive Package, Taxpayers’ Privilege and Honour Card Scheme, under which this list has been issued, lists 100 people and companies in each category, apparently as an incentive to make them more amenable and willing to pay taxes. The list includes prominent private businessmen such as Mian Mansha and family, national assets like National Bank of Pakistan, privatized former national companies such as the Oil and Gas Development Corporation, telecom sector, and the vast construction sector, among many others.

Taxes are among a country’s most valuable income source. They are also indicative of how well documented an economy is. Pakistan over the years has been lacking in both: in collecting taxes and in documenting its economy. However, some small strides have at least been made in the first part. The Federal Board of Revenue, the country’s federal tax collection agency, has issued a list of top tax payers. The list is categorised into Salaried, Non-Salaried, Association of Persons (AOP) and Companies.

Details of the high-flyers:

Tariq Nisar paid the highest amount of tax Rs 189,910,478 within the category of Salaried Individuals. The top five taxpayers also include Mohammad Naeem Mukhtar Rs 159,149,750, Muhammad Waseem Mukhtar Rs 158,858,269, Hassan Mansha Rs 149,423,639 and Sheikh Mukhtar Ahmed Rs 147,855,957.

Irfan Usman topped the Non-Salaried Persons category with Rs 749,008,253 paid as tax during the period. Among the top five were also Wazir Ali Pardhan Rs 210,332,864, Tariq Rafi Rs 174,246,502, Muhammad Irfan Ghazi Rs 117,179,385 and Sh Jhanzeb Jilani Rs 104,780,291.

LTH JV was the top taxpayer in the category of Association of Persons (AOPs) with a total of Rs 496,882,503. United Agro Chemical Rs 464,893,376, LIMAK JV ZKB Rs 424,226,717, Zahir Khan & Brothers Rs 384,895,596 and Chawla International Rs 357,433,819 comprised the top five.

Oil and Gas Development Company Ltd was the top taxpayer with Rs 36,963,745,646 in the category of Companies. The top five also included Pakistan Petroleum Limited with Rs15,404,269,282, Habib Bank Limited with Rs11,786,705,153, Government Holdings (Private) Limited with Rs 10,756,321,121 and Fauji Fertilizer Company Limited Rs 9,898,049,256.

Making the list public is no doubt a good idea, as it provides an incentive both to the people and companies on the list and also to those who are at present outside the tax net. Commenting on the list being made public, Mian Mansha, the chief of the House of Nishat and one of the country’s foremost business tycoon said that honest taxpayers should be appreciated as they are contributing their rightful share to the country’s development.

Last year Mian Mansha’s family paid well over Rs271 million in individual taxes alone. This was in addition to the corporate tax and income tax that his companies, the conglomerate Nishat Mills and the MCB contributed to the national exchequer.

While Mian Mansha’s diverse business interests are streets ahead, there are other business houses that have also declared huge profits and paid vast amount in taxes.

Incentives like these may well help the FBR to achieve its revenue collection target of Rs 2,345 billion set for the current fiscal year.

While it is easy to criticise businessmen for not being honest about the taxes presently being paid by them, the government too is equally responsible, first for letting the undocumented economy grow on such a massive scale, and second, its lack of political will in implementing even the meagre laws on the subject.

Instead of persecuting honest businessmen the government should opt for more lenient methods and offer more tax amnesty schemes with reasonable penalty and sufficient security. Taxation is not persecution, nor should it seem like targeting. It is in fact one of the most fundamental resources for running the government. Cooperation should be the key.