Sunday, 14 July 2013

Evils of Taxation on our Lives!

Will our graves be – Taxed?
BY: Kanwal Abidi

While having breakfast at Dunkin Donut, I was hitting the keys of laptop to get connected to wi-fi – when sound of murmurs and giggles caught my attention. After finishing the mocha coffee, I struggled to finish the official presentation, when I couldn’t help over hearing a conversation. Glancing back, I saw a young couple, from a well to do family – they were openly discussing “how to elope?” I admired the girl’s courage to talk in public about sensitive issues – primarily then I realized it was so early (even birds were shying to chirp, chirp) that none of her family members could have possibly been around. They both looked as if hiding from world and trying to build a world of their own. I thought, they were in some kind of trouble, but they were victims of “being taxed?” The boy sitting with her looked concerned and worried. Why – because they had to marry and with the hotels / halls and wedding arrangements / food being taxed, the young couple looked lost and despaired.

I stood up and joined them – as an uninvited guest. The girl revealed to me, that her tailor had also threatened not to give the bridal clothes – as he said “bajee abh, sewing machine pe bhe tax ho ga!” - was that tailor’s sarcasm or qualitative impact of budget’s announcement? The boy was complaining that his family was putting lot of demands on him in wedding arrangements which was beyond him and then he said 100s of people come from everywhere to attend the event – so all cups of teas will be taxed (as milk price gone up). After conversing with both of them, along with few touches of heated debate – I got up to leave, when the girl hugged me and said “I hope this conversation and air we are breathing is not taxed!” I sheepishly smiled and whispered in the girl’s ear – “better to elope than to give your future husband’s money to our government”. She had a spark in her eyes, whose gleam will stay with me till long and remind me to pray that oxygen in air remains tax free. I left as one of their pre-wedding – distinguished guest.

However, while driving to work from Dunkin Donut – I thought that as the month of Ramadan is here – even preparing iftaree will be cumbersome effort. I can see one qeema samosa selling at Rs 15 to Rs 20 per piece, not to mention what will happen to rooh afza, price of dahi, fruits, dates etc etc! It is sad and harsh reality that even “”worship to ALLAH”” is moving towards the path of inaccessibility because of “evils of taxation!” Our leaders have forgotten the number of times ALLAH has instructed and mentioned in Holy Quran the aspect of “equal distribution of wealth” – had this principle being followed – we would be breathing air of “free tax zone!”

I stood at the signal waiting for green light – when I thought how our Prime Minister “implicit or explicit” terms with Saudia Arabia – could make “Air around Makkah” – tax free. Not to forget the purchasing of oil containers will be gamed up to strike 3-3 for making personal bank statements of politicians stronger. The heavy cost of $5.30 billion of IMF funding is the foundation laid for more “power politics” to embed in the financial system. Instead the Federal Minister Ishaq Dar should have made efforts to hire expert financial consultants and economists from International community to come up with sophisticated tax collection methods, rather than tax evil to be shifted and burdened on common man – which shall permeate the already corrupted political-economic system, and it’s qualitative impact adding on to the misery of the common man.

When I took off from the signal, a remembered my basics from economics class – I wondered how Ministry of Finance can forget such foremost lesson:

“The real goal should be reduced government spending, rather than balanced budgets achieved by ever rising tax rates to cover ever rising inflation.”    Thomas Sowell
Time has come now to get up and do something. We as citizens cannot allow ourselves to be manipulated in the name of the game that there is “no federal treasure!” We have to lobby with the parliamentarians that “kindly, look up the dome of the parliament house – where 99 sacred names of ALLAH is there to make you think for common man’s benefit, not to slain him in the name of tax.”
The parliamentarians use the National Assembly halls to wear branded clothes and flashy watches (a prominent MNA wore a 4.9 Billion dollar watch and its picture also flashed on one of our private TV talk shows). This is over and above my understanding that such an expensive watch – why? Can you Mr or Ms MNA – denote it for the cause of common man? If you shall denote that watch - I promise, I will vote for you in the next election – in a “rigging free zone!”
How can Finance Ministry forget the nation’s precious asset - “employees of the Government” and then later increase their salaries in the bracket of 10% to 15% - was it a “Miss and Hit Strategy” to give intra cabinet’s financial system a “credit chain?” I think, they need to work on the equity / liability equation to realize the “value of true asset” – common man (tangible asset) and not to forget the intangible asset being the goodwill of our country Pakistan – which I think is a deferred cost for next generations to come and repent on our burdened “fiscal deficit!”
I was so engrossed in trying to come up with some equation where our goodwill is enhanced, that I didn’t’ realize I had crossed the red-light at the signal. It reminded me of Sarin Gas which Syria used and consequently, US issued the red alert warning to Syrian regime. The current budget of Pakistan is more dangerous than Sarin Gas – as mostly it has left us with “no residual income” at the end of every month.
In crossing the red light, I had used emergency breaks on my car, otherwise I would have crashed into a truck which was stranded on the street (another issue which is ignored are huge trucks stranded around corners – which results in accidents). I thanked ALLAH and heaved a sigh on being safe.
Nevertheless - I thought, I had died and gone up, now waiting for a new tax to be levied on my grave. If it was in the capacity of our government, indeed they would “tax our graves!” (The tomb stone that carries our names with span of life will be handed to our heirs after being taxed……..)