Maleeha Hashmey |
Ever since Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf stepped in the power corridors, there have been enormous challenges pouncing on the never-before-in-power Kaptaan and his team, who were never looked kindly towards, by majority of the oldie goldies sipping their coffees, with their critical hats on, in the executive clubs of Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, for their lack of experience. Many political pundits and beneficiaries of the past regimes, predicted the incumbent Government to have a faulty fortune, which wouldn’t really help them make it.
No Government has ever been lucky enough to have a dearth of challenges and pressing issues to be dealt with, but PTI-led incumbent Government is the FIRST one in the history of Pakistan that has had to deal with one of its kind sort of challenges to cope with, including a RARE blessing, popping up every day with renewed spirits, i-e; FAKE NEWS EXPRESS BUS SERVICE – a service that played its part well while working in the “favour” of the past regimes, for certain obvious reasons but working the other way around is a new experience for its orchestrators too.
Befitting rebuttals pouring in from the relevant ministers and their state ministers do shape up a sensible counter-narrative for a day or two but just wouldn’t cut the deal in the long run.
We have not really seen a day pass by since August 2018, when we were not handed over a freshly brewed fake news doughnut wrapped with our morning coffee mugs. Oftentimes, it would be on the “imaginary conversations” between the Finance Minister, Asad Umar and IMF representatives, that even they wouldn’t remember having at ANY point in time, sometimes, it would be on Prime Minister’s breakfast having comprised of cheese omelette or not, and sometimes our television screens would be flashing with BREAKING NEWS, like; “Good Morning, Pakistan.
In case you are having a pleasantly refreshing morning, let us break the MOST devastating news from Lahore. It has been raining and hailing like anything since last night and uptil now, 50,00,000 have fallen prey to the merciless raindrops and hail cubes, making them all wet. WHO is going to wash their shirts now? What if they catch a cold? Who is going to take the responsibility of providing them with cough syrups? Imran Khan MUST resign” – so on and so forth.
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How the Government has been dealing with this devastatingly negative fake news saga in the garb of “media reporting” and their sheer inability to take them to a task so far, is something that speaks volumes about how clueless they are, in this regard. Befitting rebuttals pouring in from the relevant ministers and their state ministers do shape up a sensible counter-narrative for a day or two but just wouldn’t cut the deal in the long run. There has to be a solid framework, that enables the fake news propagators to be “officially” taken to cleaners RIGHT away, rather than letting them get away with it, only to find them coming up with an even “grosser” set of fabricated news.
If there’s one Ministry that has had the MAXIMUM number of unverified set of news peddled against them, it has to be the “Ministry of Finance”- the one that found the MOST interesting gift boxes loaded with 6.6% budget deficit owing to PMLN’s over-spending in the election year, that might have met your eye, being projected as “awaam ki khidmat”, a never-ending circular debt, a highly imbalanced balance of payment, diminishing exports, an “appreciably” high trade deficit and current account deficit, Rs. 500 Billion deficit in the power sector, Rs. 150 Billion deficit in the gas sector and an overall deficit amounting to Rs. 3 Trillion!
Stock market trading withholding tax has been ABOLISHED and the withholding tax statement to be conveniently submitted twice a year instead of every month
However, to everyone’s surprise, within a short span of 6 months, not only have we observed our friendly countries ready to hold our hands with an aim to help us fight balance of payment crisis and stand on our own pretty feet but also the positive economic indicators pointing towards a better future Insha Allah!
Here’s a quick summary of the good news shared by Finance Minister, Asad Umar, in the MEDIUM-TERM ECONOMIC REFORM AGENDA, yesterday. Interestingly, upon hearing every set of good news, the masses glued to their television screens would have excited fist-bump, whereas the Opposition parties, that worked day and night over the past 50 years for bringing things to the devastatingly hopeless point of no return, would cry hoarse, as if public interest and their vested interests were two entirely different ballgames altogether!
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Here’s the bundle of “good news” !!
- Critical taxes on Capital Markets have been ABOLISHED
- Super tax on non-banking companies to be ABOLISHED from fiscal year 2020
- Exports have gone up and imports have gone down in the last 6 months
- Trade deficit and current account deficit have considerably REDUCED in the last 6 months
- The Minister announced Rs. 6.8 BILLION measures to attract investment and strengthen small and medium enterprises (SME’s), agriculture and domestic industry
- The annoying withholding tax on the banking transactions carried our by tax filers has finally been ABOLISHED
- Non-filers have been allowed to purchase cars from 800cc to 1300cc and houses worth up to Rs. 5 Million and in order to attract the non-filers to turn into filers, the taxes on the allowed facilities have been greatly increased, so that they find it a safer idea to switch to the latter slot
- The advance tax on cash withdrawal from foreign accounts remittances has been ABOLISHED
- The potential investors in Greenfield projects and renewable energy projects in Pakistan also had their fair share of “good news”. NO custom duty, NO sales tax and NO income tax for the first five years!
- The tax rate on bank income for loans to SME’s, low-income housing schemes and agriculture has been REDUCED from 39% to 20%. Wow!
- The withholding tax on marriage halls has been REDUCED to 1/3 of what they had to pay earlier; i-e; reduction from Rs. 20,000/ to Rs. 5000/ per function
- Stock market trading withholding tax has been ABOLISHED and the withholding tax statement to be conveniently submitted twice a year instead of every month
- Diesel engine – a commodity widely used by farmers – just got its duty REDUCED from 17% to 5%
- The import duty on newsprint industry has been ABOLISHED
- Promissory notes to be issued to strengthen the exporters, aiming to deal with their liquidity issues
- Capital losses have now been allowed to be carried forward for up to THREE years
- Tax EXEMPTION to be offered to the companies investing in national and international sports leagues to boost sports
- Five BILLION rupees to be allocated for Qarz-e-Hasna for low-income housing schemes, to facilitate the 5 Million housing project
- Special economic zones development to attract investment and support our domestic industry
- Savings tax to be ABOLISHED to encourage savings, leading to investments in future
- Corporate income tax concession of 1% to continue, with plans for further reduction per year, to follow!
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In the end, the Finance Minister whole-heartedly “thanked” the Leader of the Opposition – Mr. Shahbaz Sharif for bravely living up to his word and dragging Zardari on the roads of Larkana, Lahore, and Karachi…. and that’s a wrap!
Maleeha Hashmey is a corporate trainer, motivational speaker, socio-political enthusiast and human resource development consultant by profession. She has been working with the telecommunication sector as a corporate trainer. She has been working with the Ministry of Education, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as a Human Resource Development Consultant & Teacher Trainer. Her dream is to make Pakistan a stronger economic state that the whole world views as a force to reckon with. She can be followed on Twitter via her Twitter handle @MaleehaHashmey. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.