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FM Bilawal urges PM Shehbaz to end tax on diplomats

In a letter written to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto lamented that it was for the first time that a tax has been imposed on foreign ministry officials posted abroad.

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Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto has urged Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to review the tax imposed on diplomats, who already suffer from constrained budgetary issues.

In a letter written to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto lamented that it was for the first time that a tax has been imposed on foreign ministry officials posted abroad. The letter stated that the imposition of foreign allowance tax will lead to diplomats facing financial issues.

“Rather than increasing the salaries, the government has imposed a tax on the salaries,” Bilawal Bhutto said in his letter, adding that the tax was imposed without consultation with the foreign ministry. The foreign minister then asked PM Shehbaz Sharif to review his decision with regard to foreign allowance tax.

Read more: South Africa accuses Pakistani diplomats of illegal selling of vehicles

Earlier, the Finance Ministry imposed a 35% income tax on foreign allowance given to diplomats while posted abroad and threatened to go on pen down strike at headquarters and missions abroad.

The tax imposed by the Finance Ministry on foreign service officers is also applied to their entertainment allowance, education subsidy, government accommodation, medical facility, sumptuary allowance, transport, and every facility available to officers during posting abroad.

Pakistani senior diplomats posted abroad explained that it means officers have to spend entertainment allowance for the government interests and even then they are required to give 35% tax on it from their pocket.

Read more: Russia expels two German diplomats in retaliatory move

Needless to say, the move sparked severe criticism as it would not help Pakistan in getting foreign policy objectives fulfilled, particularly economic diplomacy, which requires extra resources to reach out to foreign companies and investors.

Important to note that Pakistani diplomats and ambassadors have often complained of being underfunded or not getting paid their salaries. Last year, the Embassy of Pakistan in the United States had run out of funds to pay salaries for at least four months to some of its employees.

 

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